In a widely anticipated manner, Boris Johnson on Tuesday emerged the 77th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party.
He beat his contender, Jeremy Hunt, by 92,153 votes to 46,656 to clinch the top job.
On Wednesday, he was installed at 10 Downing Street, two months after Theresa May announced resignation for failing to deliver Brexit to the British people.
Spotlight on Johnson’s personal life
Meanwhile, Johnson will be the first unmarried UK Prime Minister in more than 40 years, as he is in the process of finalising the divorce of his wife of 25 years, Marina Wheeler.
While the divorce is finalising, Johnson has been living with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, for the past 18 months.
Political observers note that Symonds could be moving into 10 Downing Street with Johnson, hence becoming the first unmarried couple to inhabit the residence.
When Carrie joined the entourage of staff who gathered outside 10 Downing Street to watch Johnson’s first speech as British Prime Minister on Wednesday, witnesses reported that photographers went wild.
Until now, Carrie, the 31-year-old former Conservative party communications official had stayed out of the media spotlight.
The daughter of Matthew Symonds, a co-founder of the Independent newspaper, and the paper’s lawyer, Josephine McCaffee, Carrie had a privileged upbringing in southwest London where she attended a private girls’ school.
She studied theatre studies and art history at the University of Warwick, before working as a press officer for the Conservative Party in 2010 and quickly rose through the ranks.
She was also part of the campaign team that helped get Johnson re-elected as mayor of London in 2012. At 29, Carrie became the youngest-ever director of communications at the party.
Johnson: From journalist to politician
Popularly known as BoJo in the UK, Johnson was born to British parents on June 19, 1964 in New York, the United States.
When he was just a few months old, his family relocated back to the UK where he later enrolled in prestigious schools like the Eton College, Ashdown House School, and the European School of Brussels. He later attended the University of Oxford, where he studied Classics.
Shortly after graduating, Johnson worked as a journalist for The Times but he was sacked after falsifying a quote. He soon became a correspondent and assistant editor for The Daily Telegraph before becoming an editor for The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.
Johnson eventually shifted career from journalism to politics, and was elected as a Member of Parliament for Henley in 2001.
During this period, he served in the Shadow Cabinet (which contains senior members of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition who scrutinise their corresponding government ministers, develop alternative policies, and hold the government to account for its actions and responses).
After serving as MP for Henley between 2001 and 2008, Johnson was elected as the Mayor of London in 2008, after defeating the incumbent, Mr Ken Livingstone.
After completing his mayoralty’s first term in 2012, he was re-elected between 2012 and 2016. It was reported he could have run for the position for a third term, but he was elected to the Parliament in 2015, forcing him to step down as mayor in May 2016. Since 2015, he has been the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
In 2016, he played a prominent role in the Vote-Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum and after the successful campaign, which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union, he was appointed by the former Prime Minister Theresa May as the Foreign Secretary.
Johnson resigned from the position two years later in criticism of May’s approach to Brexit and what became known as the Chequers Agreement.
The politician is often criticised for being a larger-than-life figure in the public. According to the UK Parliament’s Register of Interests, Johnson made £780,000 (N351m) between September 2018 and June 2019 after he resigned as minister from Theresa May’s cabinet.
At the time, he was reported to have grumbled that he could not afford to live on a £141,000 (N63.5m) ministerial salary because of his family commitments.
According to some estimates, Johnson is worth £1.5m (N675m), made up of salaries, property and royalties. His income is said to be boosted by lucrative stints as a public speaker, author, newspaper columnist and landlord.
As a MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, he gets paid £79,468 (N35.8m) a year, which will increase to £150,402 (N67.7m) as Prime Minister.
In addition to this, he used to earn £275,000 (N123.8m) a year for writing his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph, until he became the Prime Minister.
In an interview for the BBC’s HARDTalk sometime ago, the former foreign secretary said he spent 10 hours a month writing his 1,100-word column, equivalent to a pay rate of £2,291 (N1m) per hour – or around £4.80 (N2,160) a word.
The then-mayor dismissed his newspaper salary, describing it as “chicken feed.”
In the BBC interview, he said, “I happen to write extremely fast.
“I don’t see why on a Sunday morning I shouldn’t knock off an article, if someone wants to pay me for that article then that’s their lookout and of course I make a substantial donation to charity.”
He reported donating £50,000 (N22.5m) from his annual fee to charities.
The politician also continues to be paid tens of thousands of pounds a year on royalties from previous books and translations of his biography of Winston Churchill.
His most recent project – a biography on Shakespeare – has been on hold since he joined the cabinet.
He was reportedly offered a deal worth £500,000 (N225m) for the project, which was due out in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.
However, Johnson never finished the book, which was recently listed by his publisher as being due for publication in October 2020.
Lifestyle, homes and cars
Johnson receives a share of rental income from a house owned in London with his ex-wife, Wheeler. Also, his marital home in Islington, north London, was recently put up for sale at a value of £3.75m (N1.7bn), out of which he is expected to make a £700,000 (N315m) profit.
According to reports, Johnson is also said to hold at least a 20 per cent share of a Somerset property.
After divorcing Wheeler, Johnson has been living with his girlfriend, Carrie. Should he be tempted to spend more than he earns as Prime Minister, Johnson will be following in the footsteps of one of his idols, Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill is said to have spent way beyond his means, taking lavish trips to soak up the Mediterranean sun among other expenses, according to David Lough, who wrote a book on Churchill’s finances. Meanwhile, Johnson will have the perks of his new job, including a chauffeur-driven car, likely to be a custom armoured Jaguar XJ.
He will have use of Chequers, a 16th Century mansion located in Buckinghamshire, which serves as the PM’s official country residence, as well as one of the ministerial flats on Downing Street.
Johnson also stands to gain a major windfall at the end of his time in office as former British prime ministers are entitled to claim up to £115,000 (N51.8m) for costs relating to their former office, on top of generous pension allowances.