A year ago, Boris Johnson, the former British Foreign Minister, the former Mayor of London and one of the country's key eurosceptics, opened the doors of the 10 Downing street residence, assuming the mantle of the United Kingdom's Prime Minister. We should immediately emphasize that he became head of the Cabinet not after a general parliamentary election, but owing to the vote within the ruling Conservative Party undergoing a crisis over the country's plans to leave the European Union (Brexit). Johnson smoked the party leader competition and automatically became the new Cabinet head, taking over from Theresa May.
Over the three hundred years of British Prime Minister's office existence (established April 4, 1721), Boris Johnson became the 77th head of the Cabinet. So did the country get one of the most extraordinary PMs in its entire history. The son of former MEP and writer Stanley Johnson Alexander, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (his full name) was born in New York and had an American passport, which he rejected after assuming the post of Britain's Foreign Minister. Appropriately for people of his circle, Boris Johnson received an excellent education, having graduated from the prestigious Eton College and Oxford University. It was in the years since Eton that Johnson's classmates began to call him Boris instead of Alex, making his first name subsequently fall into oblivion.
But it is not his education that the current British Prime Minister became renowned for: Johnson is primarily known for his eccentricity and the boom-bust nature of his actions, which somewhat contributed to his rapprochement with the American President Donald Trump.
Having taken the helm in late July last year, Boris Johnson faced great deal of domestic trouble, as the Parliament still refused to approve the government-proposed Brexit plan. To lower the boom on MPs demanding a delayed withdrawal, the Prime Minister persuaded Queen Elizabeth II to dissolve the House of Commons and hold an early election in the country. On December 12, 2019, the Conservative Party led by him won a landslide victory in this election, enhancing its representation by almost 50 seats. Thus, Johnson got a free hand in setting an aggressive course for Brexit plans implementation.
Six months later, the persistent Boris Johnson achieved his main goal – on January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom did leave the EU. However, there was not much time to celebrate this – the first case of coronavirus was soon registered in the UK. The country faced an unprecedented crisis, with COVID-19 infecting over 300 thousand residents of the British Isles, of which almost 46 thousand have unfortunately died. Initially, Johnson was not serious about the problem and skipped meetings of the government's pandemic emergency committee, for which he was demonized from all sides. This did not last too long, however. In late March he became infected himself, and the disease followed a severe pattern. The Prime Minister said that in the intensive care unit, he even reconciled himself with the idea of death, but the doctors took pains to help him get over. After that, Johnson changed his attitude to the pandemic and took a series of steps to combat COVID-19.
As for Brexit, Britain is currently in a transition period due to end on December 31 this year. However, agreements have yet to be reached as regards London and Brussels' further cooperation, with hard negotiations looming for Britain. At the same time, according to the Johnson government's tough rhetoric, the transition period is not going to be extended, and the country will leave the EU in any case, even on a no-deal basis.
And still, Prime Minister Johnson's troubles did not end with the coronavirus and Brexit. Britain, like other Western countries, is facing a new problem that has come from the United States – the Black Lives Matter movement, seeking to reconsider perception of historical figures known for their racist views. Johnson, we note, expressed sharp criticism against the movement, promising to severely punish all the vandals. The Prime Minister was particularly zealous in defending the monument to Winston Churchill, "the greatest Briton of all time", whom he idolizes and imitates.
It is worth mentioning that the first year of Johnson's premiership was marked by foreign policy changes. London, for instance, had supported Washington in its "crusade" against Beijing. Under Johnson, landmark decisions were made to ban the Chinese Huawei company from deploying 5G networks in the UK and to allow Hong Kong residents obtain British citizenship.
The private life of the British Prime Minister was no less eventful this year. On March 1, 55-year-old Boris Johnson and his 31-year-old girlfriend Carrie Symonds announced their engagement. Later the same month, the British leader's ladylove gave birth to his third son. The couple is expected to marry before the end of this summer, although the celebration's exact date has yet to be announced. By the way, this will be the first wedding of a British PM while in office over the last three centuries.
Remarkably, during the first year of his premiership, Boris Johnson, who wasn't previously deemed as a serious politician, proved that the Cabinet's head is here to stay. He keeps a lid on too rough and impetuous remarks: even now, amid another scandal over Russia accused by the British authorities' report published last week of allegedly trying to "interfere in the country's democratic processes", particularly the 2019 elections, Johnson behaves with previously unusual restraint and consistency.
We note finally that Johnson has difficult times before him. His Cabinet will have to overcome the coronavirus pandemic's economic consequences, conduct delicate negotiations with the EU on the future coexistence, determine the United Kingdom's independent life outside the union and win the country a place on a global stage. Boris Johnson will virtually make history with all this, if he successfully addresses the challenges. Otherwise, he will be a mere placeholder Prime Minister to be soon forgotten, as it happened, for one, with his predecessor Theresa May...