In an overwhelming victory, Boris Johnson was confirmed as the United Kingdom prime minister this week, succeeding Theresa May. He is the original advocate for the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union and his "take back control" slogan successfully swayed Brexit supporters during the 2016 referendum.
Johnson is controversial. His popularity comes from his eloquent, pro-British speeches, combined with his down-to-earth appearance and famous scruffy hair. He is entertaining, speaks with intellectual wit, and is also known to quote Greek classics in casual discussions. His fearless optimism often persuades people things can happen, even if he gets his facts wrong.
His weakness is that he is no economist. Whether innocently or not, he has cited many false claims to argue a point, a practice that hurt his career as a journalist. His optimism and conviction occasionally defy reality, such as the economic consequences in the U.K. of higher tariffs on exports should a no-deal Brexit occur. While advocating that the E.U. was threatening British identity by imposing stiff budgetary commitments and regulations, he failed to mention its benefits, including free capital and trade. In 2016, Johnson falsely claimed that Britain sends £350 million weekly to the EU, where the real number was closer to £280 million per week. He was almost prosecuted for making such false statements.
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