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From Brexit to Partygate, a timeline of Boris Johnson’s career

Then-London Mayor Boris Johnson flanked by cheerleaders
Boris Johnson, then the mayor of London, is flanked by four San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders in October 2010.
(Alastair Grant / Associated Press)

He was the mayor who basked in the glory of hosting the 2012 London Olympics, and the national politician who led the Conservatives to a thumping election victory on the back of his promise to “get Brexit done.”

But Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister was marred by his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a steady stream of ethics allegations, from alcohol-fueled government parties that broke lockdown rules to how he handled a sexual misconduct scandal involving a senior party lawmaker.

Hemorrhaging the support of his fellow Conservatives, Johnson announced his resignation Thursday. Here is a timeline of events relating to his political career:

2001-2008: Serves as a member of Parliament in the House of Commons, representing the constituency of Henley, near Oxford.

2008-2016: Serves as London mayor, overseeing the 2012 Summer Olympics.

2016: Co-leader of the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, in opposition to then-Prime Minister David Cameron, a fellow Conservative. Cameron resigns after voters approve Brexit in a national referendum June 23, 2016.

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Boris Johnson wanted to be like Winston Churchill, a charismatic leader who led Britain through a major crisis, but that dream has come crashing down.

2016-2018: Serves as foreign secretary under Cameron’s successor, Prime Minister Theresa May. Johnson resigns in July 2018 in opposition to May’s strategy for a “soft” Brexit that would maintain close British ties with the EU.

June 7, 2019: May resigns as Conservative Party leader over her failure to persuade Parliament to back the Brexit agreement she negotiated with the EU. The party is split between those who back May and hard-liners, led by Johnson, who are willing to risk a “no-deal Brexit” in order to wring concessions from the EU.

July 23, 2019: Johnson is elected Conservative Party leader in a vote by party members. He takes office as prime minister the next day, inheriting a minority government that relies on votes from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to pass legislation. Johnson insists that Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.

Aug. 28, 2019: Johnson announces that he will shut down Parliament until mid-October, giving opponents less time to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

Sept. 3, 2019: Twenty-one rebel Conservative Party lawmakers support legislation requiring the government to seek an extension of Brexit negotiations if it can’t negotiate an agreement with the EU. The measure passes, and the rebels are expelled from the party.

Sept. 5, 2019: Johnson asserts he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for another extension.

The prime minister had spent months struggling to stay in power amid growing discontent within his party and among the public.

Sept. 24, 2019: Supreme Court rules that the government’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful.

Oct. 19, 2019: Johnson asks the EU to delay Brexit again. New deadline set for Jan. 31.

Nov. 6, 2019: Parliament is dissolved and early elections are set for mid-December as Johnson seeks a mandate for his Brexit strategy.

Dec. 12, 2019: Johnson wins an 80-seat majority in the general election, giving him the backing to push through Brexit legislation. The victory makes Johnson the most electorally successful Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher.

Jan. 23, 2020: The Brexit deal becomes law after approval by Parliament. The European Parliament approves the deal six days later.

March 23, 2020: Johnson places Britain in its first COVID-19 lockdown.

A parliamentary report slams British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for ‘groupthink’ that prevented decisive action early in the pandemic.

April 5, 2020: Johnson hospitalized and later moved to intensive care with COVID-19. He is released from the hospital on April 12, thanking the nurses who sat with him through the night to make sure he kept breathing.

Nov. 3-4, 2021: Johnson’s government orders Conservative lawmakers to support a change in ethics rules to delay the suspension of Owen Paterson, a Johnson supporter who had been censured for breaching lobbying rules. The measure passes. A day later, facing an angry backlash from lawmakers of all parties, Johnson reverses course and allows lawmakers to vote on Paterson’s suspension. Paterson resigns.

Nov. 30, 2021: Allegations surface that government officials attended parties in government offices during November and December 2020 in violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules. The scandal grows to reports of more than a dozen parties. Johnson denies the allegations, but opposition leaders criticize the government for breaking the law as people across the country made sacrifices to combat the pandemic.

Dec. 8, 2021: Johnson authorizes investigation into the scandal, dubbed “Partygate.” Pressure builds for a leadership challenge, but fizzles.

March 23: The government announces a mid-year spending plan that’s criticized for doing too little to help people struggling with the soaring cost of living. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak refuses to delay a planned income tax increase or impose a windfall profits tax on oil and gas companies benefiting from rising energy prices.

The British leader has been faulted for being too slow to aid Ukrainian refugees and impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

April 9: Johnson meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, pledging a new package of military and economic support. The move helps bolster Johnson and his supporters, who argue that the government should not focus on domestic political squabbles.

April 12: Johnson is fined 50 pounds ($63) for attending one of the lockdown parties. Opposition parties characterize him as the first prime minister in history shown to have broken the law while in office. Johnson apologizes but insists he didn’t know he was breaking the rules.

May 22: Findings of the “Partygate” investigation are published, detailing 16 gatherings at Johnson’s home and office and other government offices between May 2020 and April 2021. The report details excessive drinking among some of Johnson’s staff, at a time when millions of people were unable to see friends and family.

May 26: The government reverses course on its tax decision on oil and gas companies and announces plans for a 25% windfall profits levy.

June 6: Johnson narrowly wins a vote of no confidence, with Conservative lawmakers voting 211 to 148 to back him. But the scale of the revolt — some 41% voted against him — shakes his grip on power.

June 15: Christopher Geidt quits as ethics advisor to Johnson, accusing the Conservative government of planning to flout conduct rules.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership suffers a double blow as voters reject Conservative Party candidates in two special elections.

June 24: Johnson’s Conservatives lose two former strongholds to opposition parties in special elections.

June 29: Parliament’s cross-party Privileges Committee issues a call for evidence for a probe into whether Johnson misled Parliament over lockdown parties.

June 30: Chris Pincher resigns as Conservative deputy chief whip amid allegations he assaulted two guests at a private members’ club in London. Previous sexual misconduct allegations emerge about Pincher. Questions swirl about whether Johnson knew about the claims when he gave Pincher the job.

July 5: Johnson apologizes for his handling of the Pincher scandal and says he had forgotten about being told of the allegations. Two of Johnson’s most senior Cabinet ministers, Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, quit the government.

July 6: Some three dozen junior ministers resign from the government, attacking Johnson’s leadership.

July 7: Johnson agrees to resign as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.


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