Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Credentials

  • Boris Johnson was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a Brackenbury Scholar in Classics. [1]

Background

Boris Johnson is the current Prime Minister of the UK, having been elected to lead in the Conservative Party in July 2019. Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary a year before, holding the position since July 2016. Formerly Mayor of London, Johnson took a leading role in the EU referendum, endorsing the official Vote Leave campaign and acting as a member of the “core group” of its campaign committee. [29], [30], [2], [3]

During Johnson's time at the Foreign Office, there was a 60% cut in climate “attaches”, which the then UK special representative for climate change and former chief scientist, Prof David King, was forbidden from revealing to the media through a non-disclosure agreement, the Guardian later reported. [26]

Johnson’s career began as a journalist at The Times of London, but he was eventually fired in 1988 for falsifying a quote. Later Johnson became The Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent. From 1994 to 1999 he worked as assistant editor at the conservative-leaning magazine The Spectator, before becoming editor from 1999 to 2005. In 2001, he was elected as the Conservative MP for Henley. Johnson was Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 and has been MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. [4]

While at Oxford University, Johnson was a member of the exclusive Bullingdon Club, which also had senior Tory politicians such as David Cameron and George Osborne as members. Johnson was also on the board of advisors for the now-defunct right wing think tank The Atlantic Bridge founded by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. [5], [6], [7]

Stance on Climate Change

June 2017

As foreign secretary, when asked his views on President Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Johnson told Sky News: [8]

We continue to lobby the U.S. at all levels to continue to take climate change extremely seriously.”

December 20, 2015

Writing in the Telegraph, Johnson argued recent warm winter weather had nothing to do with climate change: [9]

“In the view of Piers and his colleagues at WeatherAction, it is all about sun spots, and he is on record as believing that we are now due for a new 'Maunder Minimum' – like the famous cold spell in the 17th century, when the Thames froze several times,” Johnson wrote. 

“Whatever is happening to the weather at the moment, he said, it is nothing to do with the conventional doctrine of climate change.”

In the column, similarly to one he wrote for the Telegraph in 2013, Johnson refers to the “great physicist and meteorologist Piers Corbyn” – brother of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a known climate science denier. [10]

January 20, 2013

In a Telegraph column, Johnson suggested recent cold winters may cast doubt on mainstream climate science. [10]

“I am speaking only as a layman who observes that there is plenty of snow in our winters these days, and who wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility — however remote — that [Piers] Corbyn is right,” Johnson wrote.

“Of course it still seems a bit nuts to talk of the encroachment of a mini ice age.

“But it doesn’t seem as nuts as it did five years ago. I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind.” [10]

Key Quotes

December 2015

In a Telegraph column entitled “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming: We may all be sweating in the winter air, but remember, we humans have always put ourselves at the centre of cosmic events” Johnson wrote: [9]

It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.” 

January 2013

In a Telegraph opinion column entitled “It’s snowing, and it really feels like the start of a mini ice age. Something is up with our winter weather. Could it be the Sun is having a slow patch?” he wrote the following: [10]

As a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands — when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.”

I am all for theories about climate change, and would not for a moment dispute the wisdom or good intentions of the vast majority of scientists. But I am also an empiricist; and I observe that something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it “warming” is obviously to strain the language.” 

I wish I knew more about what is going on, and why. It is time to consult once again the learned astrophysicist, Piers Corbyn. Now Piers has a very good record of forecasting the weather. He has been bang on about these cold winters. Like JMW Turner and the Aztecs he thinks we should be paying more attention to the Sun. According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb.”

Of course it still seems a bit nuts to talk of the encroachment of a mini ice age. But it doesn’t seem as nuts as it did five years ago. I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind.”

Key Deeds

June 22, 2019

Video footage emerged of former Donald Trump chief strategist and co-founder of the far-right Breitbart news website, Steve Bannon, revealing he had helped Boris Johnson write his resignation speech after stepping down as Foreign Secretary. Johnson had previously denied any association with Bannon as a “lefty delusion”. [28]

June 12, 2019

A report by openDemocracy revealed that First Corporate Shipping, co-owned by Terence Mordaunt, a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the advocacy arm of the climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, had donated £25,000 to both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt's Conservative Party leadership campaigns. [25]

May 29, 2019

Johnson was ordered to appear in court over claims he lied during the referendum campaign by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week. The case is a private prosecution launched by campaigner Marcus Ball, who crowdfunded £200,000 for legal costs. A source close to Mr Johnson called the case a “politically motivated attempt to reverse Brexit” while Ball's lawyer said: “The allegation with which this prosecution is concerned, put simply, is Mr Johnson repeatedly misrepresented the amount that the UK sends to Europe each week.” [27]

September 14, 2018

During a trip to the US, Johnson was the speaker at a black-tie dinner in Washington hosted by the conservative thinktank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He used the opportunity to criticise Theresa May's “Chequers” Brexit deal and said social mobility would be his top priority in power. Johnson's team had their “accommodation, travel and hospitality” paid for by the AEI, according to Parliament's Register of Interests. [23], [24]

The AEI has a history of spreading doubt about climate change and opposing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and has received significant funding from the Koch family and ExxonMobil.

September 27, 2017

On September 27 inside the Foreign Office, Boris Johnson launched a new thinktank to push “the moral case for open commerce.” The Institute for Free Trade (IFT) “sees Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as a unique opportunity to revitalise the world trading system,” according to its website (IFT now operates under the name “Initiative for Free Trade” following a dispute over its name). [11], [12], [13]

The IFT is based at 57 Tufton Street, sharing an office with the anti-renewables thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies, and next door to many of the organisations DeSmog UK previously revealed to be at the heart of a UK climate science denial network in 55 Tufton Street. [14], [15]

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who gave the 2017 annual lecture at the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation, is on the IFT’s “international advisory panel.” The IFT's president is climate science denying Tory MEP Daniel Hannan. [12]

March 2015

Johnson launched a new “Prosperity for All” project at the Legatum Institute lead by Tim Montgomerie, founder of Conservative Home. As Johnson was reported telling the audience: “It is time to reclaim capitalism as a moral force.” [1]

December 19, 2010

Johnson wrote an article at The Telegraph promoting the work of climate change denier Piers Corbyn, “meteorologist and brother of my old chum, bearded leftie MP Jeremy.” According to Johnson, Piers “seems to get it right about 85 per cent of the time” with regards to forecasts. [16]

“I have not a clue whether his methods are sound or not. But when so many of his forecasts seem to come true, and when he seems to be so consistently ahead of the Met Office, I feel I want to know more. Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue,” Johnson wrote.

“The question is whether anthropogenic global warming is the exclusive or dominant fact that determines our climate, or whether Corbyn is also right to insist on the role of the Sun. Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world? The Sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man.” 

2007-2008

In the run up to Boris Johnson's May 2008 election as London Mayor, prominent Tory and billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze, a financial backer of the climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation, donated the following to the politician: £2,000 in December 2007, £2,000 in February 2008, and £1,000 in March 2008. [17], [18], [19]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

Some sample publications related to Brexit below (view more articles at The Telegraph and The Spectator):

Resources

  1. Boris Johnson Launches the Legatum Institute's Prosperity for All Project,” Legatum Institute, March 30, 2015. Archived January 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/d4dHb

  2. The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP,” Gov.uk. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/DdtEf

  3. About the campaign,” VoteLeaveTakeControl.org. Archived June 28, 2016. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/e0PJe

  4. Kirsty Major. “Why are we so surprised that Boris Johnson lied when he’s been sacked for lying twice before?Independent, June 27, 2016. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/9wy4v

  5. Cameron as leader of the Slightly Silly Party,” The Telegraph, February 14, 2007. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/KJxoa

  6. Elizabeth Day. “George Osborne and the Bullingdon club: what the chancellor saw,” The Guardian, October 1, 2011. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ViDiJ

  7. Amber Elliott. “Liam Fox interview,” Total Politics, October 20, 2011. Archived November 22, 2011. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/ViYQA

  8. Elisabeth O'Leary, Reuters. “Boris Johnson 'continues to lobby' US on climate change, Trump's decision on Paris agreement looms,” Business Insider, June 1, 2017. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/BkxEm

  9. Boris Johnson. “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming,” The Telegraph, December 20, 2015. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/eB5p3

  10. It’s snowing, and it really feels like the start of a mini ice age,” The Telegraph, January 20, 2013. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/HdbkA

  11. Mat Hope. “Introducing the Institute for Free Trade: A New Pro-Brexit Thinktank tied to the UK’s Climate Science Denier Network,DeSmog UK, September 27, 2017.

  12. About,” Initiative for Free Trade. Archived January 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/hXT8H

  13. Michael Savage. “Brexit thinktank in dispute over use of ‘institute’ in title,” The Guardian, December 16, 2017. Archived January 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/mLLNh

  14. Kyla Mandel. “Is A Climate Sceptic Behind The Latest Anti-Renewables Report?DeSmog, March 18, 2015.

  15. Kyla Mandel. “Mapped: The UK's Brexit Climate Denier Network,” DeSmog, July 15, 2016.

  16. Boris Johnson. “The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game,” The Telegraph, December 19, 2010.

  17. Mr Boris Johnson MP (Great Britain), Cash (C0002375),” The Electoral Commission, accessed January 9, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/blF3Z

  18. Mr Boris Johnson MP (Great Britain), Cash (C0002410),” The Electoral Commission, accessed January 9, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/zDCoi

  19. Mr Boris Johnson MP (Great Britain), Cash (C0002430),” The Electoral Commission, accessed January 9, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/a2WZD

  20. Boris Johnson launches the Institute for Free Trade,” IFT, January 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/OnHTu

  21. The IFT Launch,” IFT. Archived January 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/W1I3o

  22. REGISTER OF MEMBERSFINANCIAL INTERESTS” (PDF), Parliament.uk, July 11, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  23. Joe Murphy. “Boris Johnson sets out his Tory leadership vision… in America,” Evening Standard, September 14, 2018. Archived April 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/zoA14

  24. Register Of Interests Of Members' Secretaries And Research Assistants [as at 22 March 2019],” Parliament.uk. Archived April 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/NZRbM

  25. Peter Geoghegan. “Revealed: Climate change denier makes big donations to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt,” openDemocracy, June 12, 2019. Archived June 12, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/g96dO

  26. Matthew Weaver. “Ex-chief scientist fears for UK climate plan if Boris Johnson is PM,” The Guardian, June 18, 2019. Archived June 18, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/gRWjL

  27. Brexit: Boris Johnson ordered to appear in court over £350m claim,” BBC News, May 29, 2019. Archived June 19, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/VOzIN

  28. Carole Cadwalladr. “Video reveals Steve Bannon links to Boris Johnson,” The Guardian, June 22, 2019. Archived June 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Mk1QV

  29. Mat Hope, Richard Collett-White. “Is Boris Johnson's Cabinet the Most Anti-Climate Action Ever?DeSmog, July 25, 2019.

  30. Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary,” BBC News, July 9, 2018. Archived August 12, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/BpZZ4

Other Resources

Photo: Number 10 via Flickr | CC2.0