Boris Johnson’s first 1,000 Days – His 50 most scandalous rows, rows and U turns as PM


Boris Johnson tomorrow will celebrate 1,000 days in Downing Street.

He is the Prime Minister to his supporters. “got Brexit done”The following was written by “tough calls”Despite more than 170,000 deaths, Covid is still being used. “levelling up”The UK.

However, his critics claim that the fact that the PM is in Partygate for the anniversary is the perfect metaphor to describe his scandal-hit premiership.

He made a promise to his people when he assumed power on the 24th of July 2019. “unite”Brits swear to “work flat out to give this country the leadership it deserves.”

Since then we have had rows over donors, the Downing Street flat, MPs’ conduct, the PM’s use of facts and of course, Partygate.

There have been many other U-turns as well as a variety of controversial policies. These range from forcing Rwandan refugees to flee to Rwanda to refusing school meals for children.

Peter Hennessy, an historian and leading figure in the field, declared that the PM was dead after a mere 1,000 days. “broken the law, misled Parliament, and has in effect shredded the Ministerial Code”Telling the BBC: “The Queen’s First Minister is now beyond doubt a rogue Prime Minister, unworthy of her, her Parliament, her people and her Kingdom.”

It might be difficult to believe, but the PM has not been in office as long Gordon Brown.

To mark the occasion we’ve rounded up 50 of Boris Johnson ’s biggest scandals, rows and U-turn since he took office. Buckle up – it’ll be a long ride…

1 – Parliament not lawfully proroguingThe Supreme Court ruled that Parliament was proroguing the PM in 2019 was an illegal act by the PM. 11 justices ruled that the PM acted illegally by proroguing Parliament in 2019. “extreme” effect on democracy. Supreme Court President Lady Hale said: “Parliament has not been prorogued.”The PM then announced that the law would not allow him to challenge his court decisions.

2 – Remove long-serving ToriesIn September 2019, the PM expelled some of longest-serving Tories. Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames and longest-serving MP Ken Clarke were among 21 who lost the whip – followed later by a 22nd, Amber Rudd. Their ‘crime’To prevent no-deal, he supported a bid for a delay in Brexit beyond October 31.

3 – Using public funds to attack LabourHe spent the day following his announcement of an election, touring hospitals and police with public funds. This was despite restrictions regarding taxpayer resources being used during elections. His bid to use Treasury civil servants to cost Labour ’s policies was blocked at the last moment by the Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill. He announced that Rwanda would send asylum seekers to Rwanda later in April 2022. This was the first day of ‘purdah’Local elections

4 – Pork barrel politics: Labour branded the Towns Fund, a key part of the PM’s levelling-up agenda, ‘blatant pork-barrel politics’Three months prior to the 2019 election, ministers selected 61 areas for cash. Many were chosen instead of towns ranked higher by officials. The Times analysis found that all but one of them were Tory targets or Conservative-held seats. Labour was able to label the levelling-up White Paper that the government presented in 2022 by Labour, who branded it ‘recycled’.

5 – Hidden in a fridgeBoris Johnson took refuge in a fridge during the final day of the 2019 election campaigning. He was accosted by an ITV reporter who wanted him to appear on the program. One of the PM’s aides could be seen mouthing ‘oh for f***’s sake’ in an incident used by his enemies ever since – despite a furious aide telling the Mirror: “No one hid in a fridge”.

6 – ‘Getting Brexit done’:Boris Johnson won 2019 elections on a promise to “get Brexit done”. His deal passed the Commons in days and the UK severed its ties with Brussels in January 2020. But the UK then spent most of 2021 trying to unpick parts of the deal and threatening to tear up a key part relating to Northern Ireland trade. It’s still unresolved. Checks on UK imports from the EU have been delayed three times and ministers are considering a fourth.

7 – Family splits: Boris Johnson’s wife of 25 years Marina was said to be ‘in pieces’ after he left her for Carrie, now his third wife, getting engaged to her while PM. His daughter Lara reportedly branded the PM a “selfish b*****d”. Boris Johnson has at least seven children – one by an affair, four by Marina and two by Carrie – though he spent years refusing to confirm. The PM insists his private life is private, but some critics claim his personal conduct is a reflection of his character.

8 – Jennifer Arcuri: The PM’s friendship with model-turned-entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri – who went on three trade missions he led as London mayor – sparked a string of ethics probes. She later said she had an affair with the married politician and they had sex on his family sofa. The police watchdog did not open a criminal investigation, but found “some evidence” they were in an “intimate relationship” – and said failing to declare it could have breached the London Assembly’s code of conduct.

9 – 170,000-death Covid complacency: Covid easily makes its own article – but more than 170,000 UK deaths are a good starting point. Experts say thousands more died than would have done if the PM had not dithered over lockdown for a week in March 2020. He boasted ‘I shook hands with everybody’ at a hospital, only attended his first COBRA meeting on March 2, and spent crucial weekends at Chequers getting engaged to girlfriend Carrie. Ex-aide Dominic Cummings has plenty of axes to grind, but has claimed the PM was consistently anti-lockdown, ignored scientific advice and failed to take Covid seriously. He also claimed the PM ranted “we should never have done lockdown 1”. “Tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die”, he said.

10 – Barnard Castle: Dominic Cummings became a household name when the Mirror revealed he drove cross-country to Durham while sick with Covid during the first lockdown, then made an infamous trip to Barnard Castle to “test his eyesight”. Mr Cummings refused to resign despite widespread public anger – and Boris Johnson stood by him.

11 – Test and Trace chaos: Serco’s privatised Covid contact-tracing system didn’t cost £37bn (that figure included millions of tests too) but it was still mired in controversy at great cost. For months the “world-beating” programme pledged by Boris Johnson didn’t materialise with contact-tracers failing to reach thousands of infected people and an app’s launch being repeatedly delayed.

12 – Covid contracts for Tory allies: The Government awarded thousands of contracts to private companies as they battled to get vital equipment such as PPE and tests at the start of the pandemic. While ministers insisted they had to act quickly, meany deals were handed to associates of ministers and officials. The High Court later ruled a so-called VIP lane to hand out PPE contracts to two firms was unlawful.

13 – Free school meals: Ministers refused to issue £15-a-week school meal vouchers over the first summer of Covid, instead pledging a £63m pot for the worst-hit, but U-turned when pressured by footballer Marcus Rashford. The vouchers were later dropped in favour of a scheme which critics say won’t reach everyone in need.

14 – Summer exams scandal: Ministers performed a U-turn over exam grades in 2020. Pupils relied on teacher assessed grades due to Covid but a bungled algorithm downgraded 39% of A-Level results – 25,000 of them by two or more grades. After days of anger, the government said pupils could keep teacher estimates but it was too late for many who missed out on uni places.

15 – Pushing people back to offices: Boris Johnson launched a push for Brits to get back to workplaces – with sources warning workers who didn’t show their faces were more likely to lose their jobs. The rhetoric was abandoned within weeks as soaring cases led to another lockdown.

16 – ‘Let the bodies pile high’: Scientists called for a circuit-breaker lockdown in September 2020, but the PM resisted the idea at first amid fears about the economic impact. He eventually caved and imposed a month-long lockdown, allegedly fuming that he would rather “let the bodies pile high” than do it again. More than 50,000 people died in the second wave.

17 – Joking about octogenarian deaths: Boris Johnson allegedly claimed Covid patients “live longer”, according to text messages shown by the BBC. In texts to aides, Mr Johnson said: “I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer.”

18 – Cancelling Christmas: Boris Johnson unveiled a plan that would let ‘Christmas bubbles’ of three families meet for up to five days in 2020. But he rowed back as Covid rates rocketed, and weeks later plunged England back into full lockdown. It later emerged Mr Johnson and then-fiancee Carrie had a friend to stay over Christmas. They insist she was part of a childcare bubble.

19 – Foreign aid cut: Boris Johnson abandoned a 2019 manifesto vow by cutting billions in foreign aid, from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income. The decision, which prompted fury including from many Tories, was blamed on Covid but later extended, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying spending would only return to normal by 2024/25.

20 – Covid travel rules: Boris Johnson was accused of sowing chaos with confusing Covid rules on foreign travel which changed repeatedly, sometimes at a moment’s notice. At one point there were plans mooted to create an ‘amber watchlist’, a sixth category for the controversial traffic light system. It was dropped before its launch amid an outcry.

21 – Post-Brexit immigration rules: New rules since 1 January 2021 mean all immigrants must earn over £20,480, have a job offer and speak good English to get permission to work in the UK. After months of warnings this would lead to job shortages, ministers belatedly brought in carve-outs for truck drivers and care home workers. They are now looking at the idea of robot fruit-pickers.

22 – Trying to dodge self-isolation: The PM and Rishi Sunak tried to dodge self-isolation by claiming to be part of a pilot scheme after they were ‘pinged’ by Sajid Javid – during a so-called ‘pingdemic’. In a farcical Sunday morning, they then U-turned less than three hours later amid public outcry.

23 – Matt Hancock’s resignation: Boris Johnson tried to stand by Matt Hancock after the Health Secretary breached Covid rules by kissing an aide. No10 repeatedly said it “considered the matter closed”. But then when Mr Hancock quit, the PM U-turned and tried to claim credit.

24 – Priti Patel’s ‘bullying’: Standards advisor Sir Alex Allan quit in protest. He had ruled Home Secretary Priti Patel ’s conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying”. Boris Johnson made the final decision, and ruled that Ms Patel had not violated the Ministerial Code. New ethics tsar Lord Geidt requested additional powers to avoid this situation again. But they have not yet been granted.

25 – Planning reformsBoris Johnson angered Tory supporters with his plans to destroy the planning system, and allow development to flow into areas that are more open for development. Although many supported reform, the pressure was too great and the Housing Secretary was fired. The plans were abandoned by Michael Gove, his replacement.

26 – Photographer vanity:The PM was accused by splurging on public cash “vanity”The Mirror reported that he had three photographers working at No10. The third was hired in February 2021 on a salary of up to £60,635 a year. Their output included promo shots of the PM’s dog frolicking in the snow – while access for independent press photographers was restricted.

27 – Kneeling:No10 did not condemn the fans who booed players during Euro 2020 warm up games for refusing to take the knee against racism. The PM’s spokesman said was “more focused on action rather than gestures”. After several days of debate, the spokesperson finally urged fans to vote. “cheer not boo”Following which, Johnson stated: “I disapprove of people booing the England team”.

28 – Downing Street flat ‘corruption’:Boris Johnson is accused of being Labour’s accuser ‘wallpaper for festivals corruption’The luxury makeover of his Downing Street home. The PM and partner Carrie spent more than £112k revamping the four-bed residence. After the project was abandoned, the PM thought a charitable Trust would be responsible. But Lord Brownlow paid instead. The PM claimed he did not know – but then ‘missing’His messages showed that he did not ask Brownlow for anything. ‘approvals’, he also promised to examine the donor’s idea of a second Great Exhibition. Eventually the PM settled the bill himself but the Tories were fined £18k for not recording the affair properly.

29 – Money worries After once branding a £250k salary ‘chicken feed’The PM is reported to have privately expressed concern about his money worries after his divorce. At one point it’s claimed a Tory donor was asked to find a nanny for Mr Johnson’s baby. Labour warned that the question of who would loan the PM money was being raised at the time. “what favours or promises may have been given in return.”

30 – Donor secrecyBoris Johnson has stopped publishing attendees of the ‘Leader’s Group’ dining club, for people who give the Conservative Party over £50k. Past records of attendees were removed from the Tory website. These records show that donors have shook hands with the PM, but no notes were taken. There are also an ‘Advisory Board’ of £250k donors has since been set up. Promises of transparency were made after a 2012 row involving ex-Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas… who Boris Johnson has now made a Lord. Three days after beginning his peerage, Lord Cruddas donated £500k to the party.

31 – Russian pals:Boris Johnson was urged by the Russian-linked Tory Party to repay millions in Tory Party donations. Banker Lubov Chernukhin, married to Putin’s former deputy finance minister, has donated £1.7m. Alexander Temerko, a Soviet-born businessman who insists he’s not ‘no friend’ of Putin, has donated £1.3m. The Tories defend these donations, claiming that they are legal. They also argue that Russian critics should not be grouped with pro-Kremlin elites. Boris Johnson also gave media mogul Evgeny Lebedev a peerage in 2020, despite spooks reportedly raising initial concerns over his father’s KGB past. He also criticised the war on Ukraine.

32 – Gongs are for croniesDavid Harding, the Tory’s major donor and boss of the hedge fund, was knighted “services to philanthropy”. The PM’s pal Zac Goldsmith earned a ministerial job and Lords place after losing his seat. A peerage was awarded to Michael Spencer, a billionaire Tory treasurer and huge-donor. Boris Johnson’s ex-aide Daniel Moylan now sits in the Lords, as does the PM’s journalist former boss Charles Moore and his former aide Eddie Lister. Tory donor Tony Gallagher, who gave the PM a £780 silver envelope to celebrate his son’s birth, was made a Sir. The PM’s ex-minister brother Jo is in the Lords too.

33 – James Dyson textsBoris Johnson claimed that Sir James Dyson, a vacuum tycoon, would be his guest in leaked text “fix”This was to ensure that his staff did not get a tax bill if they worked on UK emergency ventilators. This raised questions about the influence that powerful businessmen can have on politicians. Both sides denied any wrongdoing.

34 – Afghan animal rescueBoris Johnson was charged with lying about whether he had ever been there personally “authorised”Rescue of dogs and cats from Afghanistan during Taliban takeover. He denied that it was. “rhubarb”, but Josie Stewart, the Foreign Office’s Head of Illicit Finance, turned whistleblower to say the PM’s involvement was “widespread knowledge”Officials lied.

35 – Social care:Boris Johnson stated that he had a social care plan ‘prepared’In his inaugural speech as PM. The plan never existed, and the two-year-old cap on lifetime expenses was only announced in October 2023. The PM then outraged campaigners by tweaking the cap, so that poorer Brits couldn’t count money paid by their council towards the £86k limit.

36 – £1m bridge to Northern Ireland:Boris Johnson’s insane plan for a bridge connecting Northern Ireland to Scotland cost almost a million dollars, even though it was never constructed. A £900,000 study commissioned by the Prime Minister found a fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland would be too expensive.

37 – Climate flight Boris Johnson flew back from Glasgow’s COP26 climate summit by private jet to go for dinner at the men-only Garrick private members club. He attended a private engagement at the elite institution attended only by Lord Moore, a Conservative peer and self-confessed climate sceptic. Charles Moore was a supporter of Owen Paterson, and within hours…

38 – MPs’ sleaze:The PM directed Tory MPs not to follow ethics rules and blocked a 30-day suspension for Owen Paterson’s lobbying violations. Although the vote passed, more than 100 Conservatives refused support the plans. Keir StarmerHe accused the government with corruption. He resigned less than 24 hours later. Later, Paterson resigned from his position as Tory MP.

39 – Noisy protests:Lords defeats have repeatedly rocked Boris Johnson “autocratic”crackdown on protest rights Inflicting violence on the protestors will be illegal under the Police Bill. “serious annoyance”on any person without a reasonable excuse. This creates new offenses against obstruction of the road and using a loudspeaker at Parliament’s gates. In a last-minute attempt to increase the penalties for locking oneself to a gate, ministers failed to deliver. The police were also granted broad stop-and-search powers.

40 – Shambolic Peppa Pig speechBoris Johnson lost his spot for 20 seconds, before rambling about Peppa PigIn a bizarre speech to business leaders, November 2021. He murmured. “forgive me”You can do it three times. “blast it”. The Prime Minister jokedly quoted Lenin as well, referring to himself as Moses. He talked about how Lenin used to ridicule electric cars and wind farms, and impersonated an acceleration car saying: “Broom broom brah brah!”

41 – An increase in the National Insurance Boris Johnson U-turned on his central manifesto vow by hiking National Insurance – from 12% to 13.25% in April 2022 to raise £12bn a year. Despite it being to fix social care, all but £5.4bn of the first £36bn will go to the NHS instead. Threshold changes will cancel out the rise for earners below about £37k from July following a Tory backlash.

42 – Pensions triple lockBoris Johnson removed the pensions triple lock, a U-turning on his 2019 manifesto. It was to be in effect for one year beginning April 2022. Many experts and Boris Johnson argued it was necessary to prevent a Covid related statistical anomaly in earnings from triggering an 8.3% hike. Inflation has since reached about the same level, leaving pensioners with a real terms cut.

43 – Benefits are in decline The PM removed an 18-month, £20-a-week Covid uplift in Universal Credit despite warnings it would plunge hundreds of thousands into poverty. While the benefit was made more generous for those working, there was nothing to help the out-of-work sick and disabled – and benefits’ value will fall by £12bn in real terms this year as a 3.1% rise is outstripped by inflation. The PM refused to change the method of calculating benefit rises.

44 – P&O scandal: Ministers threatened criminal and civil proceedings against P&O Ferries after the shamed firm sacked 800 seafarers with no notice, including over a Zoom call. But they were accused of not doing enough to stop the behaviour – voting against Labour MP Barry Gardiner’s crackdown on ‘ fire and rehire’- and only then to close loopholes regarding the minimum wage at Sea.

45 – Energy Plan cop-outBoris Johnson, after weeks and weeks of delay, published his April 2022 plan to wean Britain from Russian energy. The document’s early version promised 30GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030 and 45GW in 2035, up from the 14GW currently. However, hilltop wind farms are much more affordable than those in the sea. The PM dropped this target after a Tory dispute over the document. “eyesore” machines.

46 – Bus fundingBoris Johnson was attacked “shafting”With his flagship levelling up, he has reached large areas of England ‘Bus Back Better’ plan. Ministers announced £1.2bn for 34 areas that applied for “bus service improvement plans”(BSIPs) – Kent, Norfolk and Warrington as well as Somerset, West Berkshire, Somerset, and Somerset. However, the 34 were only half of the 79 areas eligible for the program and encouraged to apply. And only £2.4bn was committed out of £3bn pledged by the PM in a ‘bus revolution’.

47 – High-speed rail:The PM was accused “selling out” millions of people across the North as he axed plans for crucial new high-speed lines – announcing a new £96bn upgrades plan instead. After many years of planning, High Speed 2’s eastern leg to Leeds was cancelled. The line will now terminate in East Midlands Parkway. Plans for the ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail,’ a new East-West high-speed rail across the North, were scrapped with the abolition of a Bradford through station.

48 – Sending Refugees to Rwanda Boris Johnson’s plan to force Britain’s unwanted asylum seekers to Rwanda was branded “opposite of the nature of God”By the Archbishops of Canterbury. The arrival of migrants “illegally”Then, the detention of dinghies and fridge trucks will take place “removed”With a one-way ticket nearly 5,000 miles from home, there is no way to apply for asylum in Britain. Experts declared that the plans were inexplicable and costly. It comes after outrage at the Nationality and Borders Bill which will make it legal to strip some people’s citizenship, and criminalise asylum seekers who arrive in small boats.

49 – Repeatedly ‘lying’To Parliament:Boris Johnson was repeatedly accused of misleading MPs, but he has failed to correct the record. Boris Johnson has made misleading claims about the jobs available in Parliament, as just one example. He stated: “there are 430,000 more [people] in employment now” than before Covid, but the figure is only payrolls – once self-employed jobs are included it’s actually lower. Of course, he was accused of misleading MPs when, despite claims that he ignored concerns, he stated that a BYOB No10 Lockdown Party was a work event. He also claimed that all rules were fully followed by Downing Street.

50 – And finally… Partygate:Boris Johnson will be forever remembered as the only Prime Minister to ever break the criminal law and yet he attempted to stay in power. Police fined him £50 over a No10 birthday party in June 2020, while indoor gatherings were banned, and he could expect three more fines over other events. The Mirror first broke stories of parties in No10 while the nation stuck to lockdown, and wave upon wave of revelations – despite No10’s attempts to style it out – have enraged relatives who could not properly mourn their dead. Police have already handed out many fines to those involved in 12 No10 and Whitehall events that took place during all three lockdowns.

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