Purnell believed that it was the influence of Johnson's maternal family, the left-wing Fawcetts, that led to him developing "a genuine abhorrence of racial discrimination". Johnson praised the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, saying that "Churchill saved this country and the whole of Europe from a barbaric fascist and racist tyranny and our debt to him is incalculable." He added that Churchill had "an extraordinary record as a social reformer who cared deeply for working people and their lives." In 2003, Johnson said of the EU, "I am not by any means an ultra-Eurosceptic. In some ways, I am a bit of a fan of the European Union. If we did not have one, we would invent something like it." As Mayor of London, Johnson was known as a supporter of immigration. From 2009 onward, he advocated a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
Purnell has argued that Johnson "is nothing if not an elitist". In a 2000 article titled "Long Live Elitism", Johnson stated that "without elites and elitism man would still be in his caves". Since the Brexit campaign, he has criticised the "cynicism of the elite" about Brexit, described an "elite conspiracy to thwart Brexit", and accused the elite of being "frankly indifferent to the suffering that their policies are causing". Some media sources have therefore called him a "populist". Richard J. Evans has described Boris Johnson as "a firm believer in the 'great man' theory of history".More Info
A poll of party members published on 13 June showed Johnson to be the clear front-runner. He received 114 votes in the ballot, the first of five, that took place that day. Johnson was criticised by his competitor Jeremy Hunt for failing to appear alongside him and the other candidates in a debate on 16 June. During the debate, which was broadcast by Channel 4, Hunt asked: "If his team won't allow him out with five fairly friendly colleagues, how is he going to deal with 27 European countries?" That day, the second ballot took place, and Johnson gained the backing of 12 more MPs, taking his number of votes to 126. He achieved 143 votes in the third ballot and 157 in the fourth ballot. In the last ballot of MPs on 20 June he reached 160 votes and was named one of the final two candidates, alongside Hunt.More Info
Johnson's biographer and friend Andrew Gimson said that while "in economic and social matters, [Johnson] is a genuine liberal", he retains a "Tory element" to his personality through his "love of existing institutions, and a recognition of the inevitability of hierarchy". His liberal stance on matters such as social policy, immigration and free trade were also commented on in 2019. In 2019, Al Jazeera editor James Brownswell said that although Johnson had "leaned to the right" since the Brexit campaign, he remained "slightly more socially liberal" than much of his party. In 2019, former Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party Michael Heseltine said Johnson "has no right to call himself a one-nation Conservative" and wrote: "I fear that any traces of liberal conservatism that still exist within the prime minister have long since been captured by the rightwing, foreigner-bashing, inward-looking view of the world that has come to characterise his fellow Brexiters".More Info
Johnson supported Vote Leave's statement that the government was committed to Turkish accession to the EU at the earliest possible opportunity, contradicting the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign's view that Turkey "is not an issue in this referendum and it shouldn't be". Vote Leave was accused of implying that 80 million Turks would come to the UK if it stayed in the EU. When interviewed in January 2019, he said he had not mentioned Turkey during the campaign. On 22 June 2016, Johnson declared that 23 June could be "Britain's independence day" in a televised debate in front of a 6,000-member audience at Wembley Arena. David Cameron, British prime minister at the time, specifically addressed Johnson's claim, publicly stating, "the idea that our country isn't independent is nonsense. This whole debate demonstrates our sovereignty."More Info
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a serious crisis within the first few months of Johnson’s second term and gaining the 2019 majority. On 20 March 2020, Johnson requested the closure of pubs, restaurants, gyms, entertainment venues, museums and galleries that evening, though with some regret, saying "We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub". On 23 March, this was strengthened into a "stay at home" order throughout the UK, except for a few limited purposes, backed up by new legal powers for a period of up to 2 years. The UK was amongst the last major European states to progressively encourage social distancing, close schools, ban public events and order a lockdown.More Info
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