Blond ambition: Split loyalties for the Johnson family

UK News | Published:

The Prime Minister is looking increasingly isolated after his brother Jo announced his decision to step down as an MP.

Boris and Jo Johnson

Just when he thought things could not get worse, the Prime Minister’s latest setback is the departure of his brother Jo from his own ministerial team.

The Johnson family is now as divided as the nation, and here we take a look at a dynasty with a crisis of loyalties.

– Stanley

Family patriarch Stanley, 79, is now in team Leave with his eldest son Boris, but some may question how deep his commitment is to leaving the EU.

Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson (Aaron Chown/PA)

Serving as a Conservative MEP between 1979 and 1984, he was a Remainer in the 2016 referendum .

It was not until the following year that he announced he had switched his support to Leave, saying in a speech “the time has come to bail out”.

With his children divided on Brexit, the passionate environmentalist claimed wildlife rather than Europe was his priority when his eldest son became Prime Minister.


He said in a recent Good Morning Britain interview: “I have got to be jolly careful not to keep lobbying him, sending him messages saying ‘what about the whales, and the sharks and the animals’.”

Stanley competed in the 2017 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and frequently appears on TV shows, including Celebrity Gogglebox.

– Boris

One of the most divisive figures in British politics, his list of gaffes range from the farcical – getting stuck on a zip wire – to the controversial, such as comparing Muslim women to letter boxes and bank robbers.


Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (Aaron Chown/PA)

Having finally achieved his lifelong goal of becoming Prime Minister, the 55-year-old has suffered a tough week after his decision to suspend Parliament provoked a fierce backlash from MPs.

The first in a series of Commons defeats inflicted by the “Rebel Alliance” saw him take the unprecedented step of withdrawing the whip from 21 Tory veterans, including two former chancellors and Winston Churchill’s grandson.

As mayor of London, Boris gave an impression of optimism and liberal values, and many blame his new hardline stance on his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, the architect of the Vote Leave campaign.

On Tuesday, veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale branded Mr Cummings “a foul-mouthed oaf” and urged the Prime Minister to sack him.

– Jo

The youngest of Stanley Johnson’s four children with his first wife.

The decision to deselect Tory rebels was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back for Jo.

Having served as Conservative MP for Orpington for nine years, the Remain backer has made his concern clear about the direction the party has been moving in.

He quit Theresa May’s cabinet in November last year after serving as minister for London, claiming her Brexit deal represented a choice between “vassalage and chaos”.

The 48-year-old returned to the heart of government when his brother became Prime Minister after being offered his former job as minister for universities, science, research and innovation.

His decision to quit was reportedly made after the purge of colleagues working to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

– Rachel

The journalist, editor and television presenter abandoned membership of the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2017 election because of the party’s support for Brexit.

Rachel Johnson
Rachel Johnson (Anthony Devlin/PA)

An ardent supporter of Remain, she first joined the Liberal Democrats before going on to stand as a candidate for the newly formed Change UK in the European Parliament elections earlier this year.

After the Tory leadership vote, she said of brother Boris: “I salute him for making his own moonshot at politics and landing safely – for the moment – in Downing Street.”

She was also supportive of her sister-in-law Marina Wheeler after she went public with her battle with cervical cancer.

Ms Wheeler’s account revealed her sister had helped her through treatment, but did not mention her husband of 25 years.

After Jo’s resignation, Rachel insisted the siblings kept politics and family life separate.

The 54-year-old tweeted: “The family avoids the topic of Brexit especially at meals as we don’t want to gang up on the PM!”

– Leo

Arriving among the Johnson clan between Rachel and Jo, Leo has steered clear of politics and instead built a career in the City, becoming a partner at PwC.

Leo Johnson
Leo Johnson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He co-hosted the Radio 4 series Future Proofing, which explores how new technology and the latest ideas could transform the way society functions.

Leo tends to avoid politics but wants a People’s Vote on Brexit.

He frequently retweets pro-Remain accounts, as well as being a supporter of environmental issues.

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