On 27 March, it was announced that Johnson had tested positive for COVID-19. On 5 April, with his symptoms persisting, he was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London for tests. The next day, his condition having worsened, he was moved to the hospital's intensive care unit; Dominic Raab was appointed to deputise for him. Johnson left intensive care on 9 April, and left hospital three days later to recuperate at Chequers. After a fortnight at Chequers, he returned to Downing Street on the evening of 26 April and was said to be chairing a government coronavirus "war cabinet" meeting.
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
In November 2016, Johnson told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe—a British-Iranian dual citizen serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran after being arrested for training citizen journalists and bloggers in a BBC World Service Trust project—had been "simply teaching people journalism". Zaghari-Ratcliffe had said that her visit had been made simply for her daughter to meet her grandparents. Facing criticism, Johnson stated he had been misquoted and that nothing he said had justified Zaghari-Ratcliffe's sentence. In May 2018, Johnson backed the Iran nuclear deal framework despite Donald Trump's withdrawal. Johnson said that the deal brought economic benefits to the Iranian people. Johnson described the Gülen movement as a "cult" and supported Turkey's post-coup purges. He said that Turkey's coup attempt "was deeply violent, deeply anti-democratic, deeply sinister and it was totally right that it was crushed."More Info
In a September 2017 op-ed, Johnson reiterated that the UK would regain control of £350m a week after Brexit, suggesting it go to the National Health Service (NHS). He was subsequently criticised by cabinet colleagues for reviving the assertion, and was accused of "clear misuse of official statistics" by the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove. The authority rejected the suggestion that it was quibbling over newspaper headlines and not Johnson's actual words.Following the 2017 general election, Johnson denied media reports that he intended to challenge May's leadership.In a February 2018 letter to May, Johnson suggested that Northern Ireland may have to accept border controls after Brexit and that it would not seriously affect trade, having initially said a hard border would be unthinkable.More Info
In August 2018, The Daily Telegraph published a satirical article by Johnson criticising the then newly implemented Danish law against the wearing of the burqa or niqab. In it, he defended the right of women to wear whatever they chose. He agreed that the burqa is oppressive and that "it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces" and also commented that he could "find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran" and that it seemed "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes" and that "[i]f a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber" that he "should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that [he] could talk to her properly." The Muslim Council of Britain (MCM) accused Johnson of "pandering to the far right", while Conservative peer Baroness Warsi accused him of dog-whistle politics. Several senior Conservatives, including May, called on Johnson to apologise. Others, such as MP Nadine Dorries, argued that his comments did not go far enough and that face veils should be banned. A Sky News poll found 60% thought Johnson's comments were not racist, to 33% who did; 48% thought he should not apologise, while 45% thought he should. An independent panel was set up to review Johnson's comments. In December, the panel cleared him of wrongdoing, stating that while his language could be considered "provocative", he was "respectful and tolerant" and was fully entitled to use "satire" to make his point.More Info
By resigning as Foreign Secretary, Johnson returned to the role of a backbench MP. In July, Johnson delivered a resignation speech, stating that ministers were "saying one thing to the EU about what we are really doing, and pretending another to the electorate". In it, he said that "it is not too late to save Brexit. We have time in these negotiations. We have changed tack once and we can change once again". Buzzfeed reported that Johnson had been in contact with Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former chief adviser. In interviews, Bannon had praised Johnson and said that he should challenge Theresa May for the party leadership. In January 2019, Johnson came under criticism for remarks he had made during the 2016 Leave campaign regarding the prospect of Turkish accession to the European Union; he denied making such remarks. In March 2019, Johnson said that expenditure on investigating historic allegations of child abuse, instead of more police on the streets, was money "spaffed up the wall". This was strongly criticised by a victim, anti-abuse organisations, a police chief and Shadow police minister Louise Haigh.More Info
We don't show ads. Help us keep it that way.