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A few things to know about Boris Johnson


Boris Johnson on Tuesday was named the leader of the United Kingdom's Conservative Party and will become the country's newest prime minister on Wednesday.

He defeated British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the leadership election, receiving 92,153 party votes compared to Hunt's 46,656 in the bid to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who stepped down this year following failed Brexit negotiations.

Here are five things to know about the soon-to-be British leader.

He has been a staunch Brexit supporter

Johnson was one of the loudest voices pushing to leave the European Union during the U.K.'s 2016 referendum. Johnson called the governing body "a political project that has been going on for decades, and is now in real danger of getting out of proper democratic control," when announcing his support, according to the Independent.

"Is it better for Britain to remain in Europe as it currently is, or is there a way that we could actually get a better deal that did more for Britain, and restored some control to the people in this country?" he asked, then serving one of his two terms as London's mayor.

He was seen as a leader of the "Leave" campaign and also argued that "there is simply no common political culture in Europe.” 

He still supports the exit and has recently said the U.K. should leave by Oct. 31 “do or die, come what may.”

But Johnson has faced criticism over his handling of the Leave campaign. In May, he was ordered to appear in court over accusations of misconduct in public office.

He was accused of lying to the public for claiming that EU membership cost the country 350 million pounds ($442 million) a week, a claim that could be seen on the side of the pro-Brexit campaign bus. He was victorious in court.

He has President Trump's support

President Trump, who has praised Johnson in the past, tweeted on Tuesday congratulating Johnson on his election.

"Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!" he wrote.

Earlier this year, Trump weighed in on Johnson's behalf, saying that he would be an “excellent” prime minister. The move was unusual, since U.S. presidents don't normally opine on foreign elections.

“I like him. I have always liked him. I don’t know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person,” Trump told The Sun in an interview during his U.K. visit this year.

He began his career as a journalist...but got fired

Before becoming a politician, Johnson was a reporter, but was fired by The Times of London after fabricating a quote to embellish a story.

He has also served as a correspondent in Brussels for the Telegraph and has been highly critical of the EU in his coverage.

Johnson also served as editor of magazine the Spectator from 1999 to 2005 and carried out this role during part of his time as a member of Parliament. He also writes a column in the Telegraph and has written for GQ.

In a column published in The Telegraph on Sunday, Johnson compared issues at the Irish border to the moon landing in 1969.

He has a history of controversial remarks

Johnson is no stranger to controversy, with many of his colorful remarks sparking accusations of racism, homophobia and sexism.

He famously said that Muslim women who wear burkas look “like letter boxes” and has said Hillary Clinton resembled a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”

In a 2002 column for The Daily Telegraph, Johnson wrote that black people in Africa had “watermelon smiles.” Johnson has since defended the remark as being made “in a wholly satirical way”.

CNBC reported that while Johnson was a journalist in 2002, he used racist terms in an article about a trip to Congo, although he has apologized.

Ian Blackford, the leader of the U.K.'s Scottish National Party, has called Johnson a racist and said such remarks make him "unfit for office."

He used to be a U.S. citizen

Born in New York, Johnson had dual U.S. citizenship until 2016. He appeared on a Treasury Department list of 5,411 people who renounced their citizenship.

The Guardian reported that his decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship may have been a move to avoid paying taxes in both countries. He had said that the U.S. was attempting to tax the sale of his home in Islington, north London, although he reportedly paid it.

At the time, Johnson called the demand for the tax “absolutely outrageous,” and asked by NPR if he should pay, he said: “Why should I? I haven’t lived in the United States for, you know, well, since I was five years old.”

He also told the radio station that it would be difficult to give up his U.S. citizenship.

“I have to confess to you, that you’re right ... it is very hard, but I will say this, the great United States of America does have some pretty tough rules," he said.

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