Gaffe-prone former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's highs and lows from being stuck on a zipwire to last-minute resignation

As they munched on ham and cheese sarnies, washed down with Diet Cokes, the arch-Brexiteer realised he would struggle to publicly defend Theresa May’s latest fudge.


A friend said BoJo had been asked to write a joint article with Remain-voting Chancellor Philip Hammond for the weekend papers — and declared: “I can’t sign up to this.”

Just 72 hours earlier the PM had hailed an end to Cabinet Brexit wars, claiming a soft Brexit victory.

But Boris knew the plan to keep Britain lashed to Brussels forever was not what he had sold the public as the face of Vote Leave.

After a heavy-hearted phone call with Brexit boss David Davis on Sunday evening ahead of his own resignation, a restless night left the explosive departure all but inevitable.


His devastated close aide Conor Burns conceded: “He simply could not defend the position the Cabinet were bounced into on Friday”.

Another friend was more forthright — Theresa’s plan is turd “and he couldn’t summon the polish”.

The media scrum that had begun to gather outside BoJo’s grace and favour townhouse overlooking St James’s Park did not need to wait for the traditional exchange of letters to realise Boris was out.

His six police motorbike outriders abruptly departed his front door as his power drained away.

Last night there was not much love lost from Tory MPs.

As his ­former aide Will Walden wondered: “Was his calculation that a rump of his party that already despise him wouldn’t thank him for keeping the peace anyway?”

But despite his mop of blond hair providing a totemic scalp for those who hate Brexit, only a fool would write him off again.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was once the darling of the Conservative Party — stopped in the street for selfies, mobbed at party events and cheered wherever he went.

He was the hero of the Brexit revolution and his march on Downing Street seemed unstoppable.

He had proved to be that rare Tory who could win where others could not — including in London, where he became Mayor in 2008 and returned for a second City Hall term in 2012.

Many had written Boris off as a buffoon but even his sharpest critics were stunned by the success of the London Olympics.

His rivalry with David Cameron even got physical at one point, with the Mayor visiting No10 to negotiate London’s budget.

BoJo wrestled a stunned PM to the ground in a tussle while trying to read a document.

Onlookers accused the pair of “acting like immature schoolboys”.

But crucially Boris got his additional funds for the capital.

One Cameron ally described Boris in City Hall as “a continual pain the arse, always asking for more and going missing when Downing Street needed some back-up”.

There was not much celebrating when he returned to the Commons in 2015.

His popularity with the public was not shared by all there.

One colleague said: “He never really shone when he was a backbencher, and he was a terrible shadow minister.

“When he came back to Parliament he picked up where he left off.

"He never took the time to get to know MPs or do all the greasing you need to do to get to the top.”

Another had predicted at the time: “I think he will get bored very quickly.

"It’s one thing being Mayor of London but you forget that being an MP is about more than being the centre of attention.

"You have to pull your weight and trundle through the lobbies late at night.”

However, Boris had arrived in the middle of the Tory psychodrama over Europe and became what MPs called “the acceptable face of Brexit”.

He toured Britain on his big red bus with new ally Michael Gove, promising to splash the cash saved on the NHS.

He upset President Obama by questioning in a Sun article if he hated Brits because he was “half-Kenyan”.

The comments caused an international storm.

Friends admit the Brexit victory came as “a hell of a shock for him”.

He turned to his next fight — taking on Theresa May for No10.

Boris blundered by failing to keep his Brexit coalition together to get him over the line.

However it was “campaign manager” Mr Gove who plunged the knife in, declaring he too was going for the top job on the morning Boris was due to launch his campaign.

BoJo pulled out of the race. Even his closest friends thought his political career was dead.

But Remainer Mrs May needed Brexiteers in her top team, and Boris was first on her list.

In July 2016, to huge surprise, he became Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary.

Friends point out Boris had been “coining it”, earning hundreds and thousands from his columns and books.

One said: “He had to take a pay cut at the Foreign Office, so at least now he can go back.”

It had been a gaffe-prone two years while outspoken BoJo, never known for his tact, tried to turn his hand to deft diplomacy.

An awkward summit with Turkish President Recep Erdogan prompted ridicule, as four months earlier Boris wrote a limerick which found a rude rhyme for “Ankara” and suggested the Premier was fond of goats.

Another low point was describing Africa as a “country” and joking about Libya being a great place for businesses to invest as long as they “clear the dead bodies” off the beach at Sirte.

Then came Whitehall turf wars with fellow Brexiteers Dr Fox over trade, and with Priti Patel over aid.

Reports began to float that intelligence chiefs did not trust him.

The PM was forced to declare her Foreign Secretary was speaking out of turn after he accused the Saudis of playing proxy wars in the Middle East.

One of his most notorious gaffes, still being played out, saw him forced to apologise for suggesting a British mum jailed in Iran had been training journalists in Tehran — when she was actually on holiday.

He insisted he was misquoted, but it meant Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces extra years behind bars.

Boris took another nosedive by flying out on a hastily organised trip to Iraq to avoid a vote on Heathrow expansion, having previously been its leading critic.

Even close allies admit “it was not a great look”.

Last night another former Boris backer said it was a miracle how in just two years he had managed to “p*** off” both Remainers and Brexiteers alike.

Insiders said BoJo’s greatest regret will always be not staying in the race against Mrs May to make sure Brexit was “done properly”.

Just last month he suggested Donald Trump would do a better Brexit negotiating job than Mrs May, saying “he’d go in bloody hard”.

A pal said: “He is haunted by the fact his chance may have come and gone when he could have won and been our Trump.”

The ups and clowns of Boris Johnson

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