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A look back at Boris Johnson’s biggest gaffes as Prime Minister

boris johnson gaffes
Boris Johnson has had many gaffes serving as PM (Pictures: AFP/PA/AP/SWNS/Reuters)

Boris Johnson’s reign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will soon come to an end, to the joy of some and the dismay of others.

During his tenure at the helm, no matter what you think of Mr Johnson, his time has been plagued by controversy, gaffes and sometimes downright stupidity.

Despite trying to cling on for as long as possible, he was forced to resign as leader of the Conservative party and will step down as Prime Minister in autumn.

Speaking at the time, Mr Johnson vowed to give the next Tory leader ‘as much support as I can’, adding: ‘I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world – but them’s the breaks.’

From partygate, to his handling of the Covid pandemic, to the Chris Pincher revelations, we take a look back at some of Mr Johnson’s biggest gaffes and what ultimately led to his downfall.

Drawing the Queen into a major constitutional row

Mr Johnson got off to a dodgy start as Prime Minister when he was found to have lied to Her Majesty the Queen.

Lying would soon become a familiar theme of the Johnson administration with this first lie certainly living up to this.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 26, 2021 Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks down at the podium as he attends a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London. - Boris Johnson will resign as Conservative party leader on July 7, 2022, the BBC reported, paving the way for a successor to replace him as British prime minister, after dozens of his ministers quit the government. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
His Brexit deal wasn’t exactly ‘oven ready’ (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

He succeeded in drawing the Queen into a major constitutional row over the illegal proroguing of Parliament to get his Brexit deal passed.

Mr Johnson remarked he would ‘rather be dead in a ditch’ than extend the Brexit deadline once again.

He won the General Election in 2019 on the mandate he would ‘Get Brexit Done’.

The Supreme Court ruled Mr Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued for five weeks at the height of the Brexit crisis was unlawful.

Missing key Cobra meetings before the Covid pandemic

File photo dated 06/03/20 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Mologic Laboratory in the Bedford technology Park in Bedfordshire. Boris Johnson will publicly announce his resignation later today, likely before lunchtime, the BBC is reporting. Issue date: Thursday July 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Johnson. Photo credit should read: Jack Hill/The Times/PA Wire
Mr Johnson was busy shaking Covid patient’s hands in hospitals (Picture: PA)

Another major gaffe of Mr Johnson’s premiership was his denial about the severity of the Covid pandemic at the start.

While the world began to accept the seriousness of the Covid pandemic, Mr Johnson sat back and did not attend key Cobra meetings.

Instead, he boasted about shaking hands with patients who were suffering with coronavirus at a hospital.

But he soon caught Covid and suffered from minor symptoms which quickly developed into a hospital admission with doctors trying to save his life.

When the scale of the pandemic quickly became apparent, the government including Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the time were slow to prevent care home deaths.

He was accused of saying he would rather ‘let the bodies pile high’ before taking any action.

His Peppa Pig rant

PM Boris Johnson was seen enjoying a day at Peppa Pig World theme park with his one-year-old son. The pictures, taken yesterday (21) show the PM sporting a dark green beanie hat as he sits on a ride at the theme park in New Forest, Hampshire.See SWNS story SWSYboris. PM Boris Johnson enjoyed a break from politics at the weekend by taking his one year old son for a trip around Peppa Pig World. Boris, accompanied by son Wilfred and wife Carrie, was seen sporting a dark green beanie hat at Paulton's Park theme park near Southampton, Hants. The 57-year-old politician was seen perched on a seat on the Grampy Rabbit?s Sailing Club water ride on Sunday. George Bell, 30, was out on a family day trip of his own to the theme park when he spotted Boris waiting to go on the same ride.
The PM was seen at Peppa Pig World (Picture: George Bell/SWNS)

Another bizarre moment was when Mr Johnson ranted about Peppa Pig world and pretended he was a car during a keynote CBI speech.

It is safe to say, he made a pig’s ear out of the speech when he praised the theme park and made ‘vroom vroom’ engine noises – prompting a journalist to ask if ‘everything is ok’.

During the talk, he muttered ‘forgive me’ up to three times, as papers could be heard fluttering in the background while the audience sat in awkward silence for about 30 seconds.

The PM was forced to defend his position as the journalist asked: ‘You lost your notes, you lost your place, you went off on a tangent about Peppa Pig – frankly, is everything ok?’

But he insisted: ‘I thought it went over well.’

His defence of MP Owen Patterson

FILE - British lawmaker Owen Paterson outside the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels on Oct. 22, 2018. In Nov. 2021, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government ordered Conservative lawmakers to support a change in ethics rules to delay the suspension of Johnson supporter Owen Paterson, who had been censured for breaching lobbying rules. The measure passes. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)
Owen Paterson came under the spotlight (Picture: AP)

He came under criticism when he defended then Tory MP Owen Paterson.

Mr Paterson repeatedly broke lobbying rules and he resigned from the House of Commons on November 5 2021.

He later admitted he ‘crashed the car’ in his handling of the case.


FILE - Madame Tussauds London mark Boris Johnson's victory in the London mayoral election by giving him a post-party makeover Friday, May 4, 2012. British media say Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign on Thursday, July 7 2022, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future. (AP Photo/Jonathan Short, File)
Partygate was a huge scandal for the PM (Picture: AP)

Reports started to stack that party gatherings had been happening at No 10 over the pandemic.

This is despite strict social distancing rules being imposed on the UK at the time.

It got worse because the PM went on to say that all rules were followed and the parties were simply ‘work events’.

But the Metropolitan Police did not like that at all and Boris Johnson received various fines from the police for the lockdown parties.

These fines made him the first Prime Minister in British history to have broken the law while serving the country.

The confidence vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (L) carry barrels as they visit Fourpure Brewery in Bermondsay, London on on October 27, 2021. - Britain's pandemic-hit economy is set to extend its solid recovery into next year despite strong inflationary pressures, finance minister Rishi Sunak announced on October 27. (Photo by Dan Kitwood / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DAN KITWOOD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Johnson’s political integrity was damaged after the confidence vote (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Many of his own Tory MPs started to feel angry towards the PM, with many backbenchers calling for a confidence vote in his leadership.

He survived the confidence vote but emerged from the vote severely dented.

The Prime Minister won the ballot by 211-148, a victory which secured his place in Downing Street but by no means ended the political gaffes which defined his premiership.

Getting booed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds arrive for a service of thanksgiving for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral in London, Friday, June 3, 2022 on the second of four days of celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee. The events over a long holiday weekend in the U.K. are meant to celebrate the monarch's 70 years of service. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Boos could be heard everywhere during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations (Picture: AP)

Another very embarrassing moment for Mr Johnson and wife Carrie was when both were booed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The public booing was a reflection of the sentiment felt towards him and the administration in the aftermath of the partygate scandal.

It was a hint that this was the beginning of the end for Mr Johnson.

Chris Pincher sexual allegations

Undated handout photo issued by UK Parliament of Chris Pincher. The Tory under investigation for allegedly groping two men said he is seeking
Chris Pincher’s sexual assault allegations ultimately brought the PM down (Picture: PA)

The Chris Pincher scandal was the ultimate nail in the coffin for Boris Johnson which resulted in a huge number of ministerial resignations and ultimately his downfall.

The end was in sight when it was made aware the PM knew of sexual assault allegations against Mr Pincher before he was promoted to deputy chief whip.

Mr Johnson then lied to everyone about having that knowledge before No 10 admitted he did in fact have knowledge of the scandal.

He faced more than 50 resignations from his government in just 48 hours, the most in British political history, and he was forced to resign.

Mr Johnson will go down as one of the shortest serving Prime Minister’s in British history.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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