Boris Johnson's first year in office: The key moments

24 July 2020, 10:11

By Megan White

On this day last year, Boris Johnson succeeded Theresa May as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.

In that time, he’s dealt with Brexit, losing his working majority in Parliament, a general election and the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are a breakdown of his key moments as PM:

July 24 – Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister

Mr Johnson became PM after Theresa May stood down amid struggles to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

He beat Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and other prominent Tory MPs to take the top spot in Number 10.

September 3 - 21 rebel Tory MPs stripped of the whip

21 MPs who voted for an amendment to the Brexit Withdrawal Bill had the whip removed.

The amendment would have taken control of Parliamentary business away from the Government.

Those MPs were Guto Bebb, Richard Benyon, Steve Brine, Alistair Burt, Greg Clark, Kenneth Clarke, David Gauke, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Sam Gyimah, Philip Hammond, Stephen Hammond, Richard Harrington, Margot James, Sir Oliver Letwin, Anne Milton, Caroline Nokes, Antoinette Sandbach, Sir Nicholas Soames, Rory Stewart and Ed Vaizey.

On October 29, ten of those MPs had the whip restored. Of the other 11, six stood down ahead of the election, while five stood as Lib Dems or independents and lost their seats.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he arrives back at 10 Downing Street in December
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he arrives back at 10 Downing Street in December. Picture: PA

October 7 – Jennifer Arcuri scandal

Boris Johnson was forced to explain links between himself and US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who he awarded public funds to while he was London Mayor.

There were allegations she received favourable treatment because of her friendship with him.

The Sunday Times alleged that Ms Arcuri received £126,000 in public funds during Mr Johnson's tenure as London Mayor, and was granted access on three overseas trips led by the now-prime minister.

Ms Arcuri joined the Conservative campaign team in 2012 as Mr Johnson was seeking re-election as London mayor.

It is claimed Mr Johnson visited the tech entrepreneur's Shoreditch flat on a number of occasions, and gave her fledging tech company a £10,000 grant from a company Mr Johnson was responsible for as mayor.

But a review found the money awarded was “appropriate” and the Independent Office for Police Conduct said the PM would not face a criminal investigation.

December 12 – Tory landslide at the general election

The Conservatives won their biggest Commons majority since the Thatcher era, with the victorious PM hailing a “new dawn.”

They won 365 out of 650 seats, but it was Labour’s worst election result since 1935, with the party winning just 203 seats.

In his speech in central London, Mr Johnson said: "We did it - we pulled it off, didn't we?

"We broke the gridlock, we ended the deadlock, we smashed the road block.

"I want to congratulate absolutely everybody involved in securing the biggest Conservative majority since the 1980s.

"Literally - as I look around - literally before many of you were born."

January 31 – UK officially leaves the EU

The UK officially left the EU on January 31, beginning a year-long transition period.

January 31 – First confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK

The first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in York on January 31. By March 1, the virus had reached every UK nation.

March 1 – Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds announce engagement and her pregnancy

The couple announced they were expecting a baby in the early summer and that they were engaged on March 1.

Mr Johnson had recently finalised his divorce with estranged wife Marina Wheeler. The couple have two daughters and two sons together. Mr Johnson's marriage to Miss Symonds will be his third.

March 23 – UK enters lockdown

The PM put the country on lockdown on March 23, announcing a series of strict measures designed to limit the spread of coronavirus, similar to those which were already in place in cities across Europe.

In a televised address to the nation from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said that Brits "must stay at home" and that the new rules will last for at least the next three weeks.

He also said police will be given powers to enforce a raft of new measures, including through fines and dispersing crowds.

March 27 – PM tests positive for coronavirus

The PM self-isolated on March 27 after having mild symptoms of Covid-19.

Mr Johnson, who had a high temperature and persistent cough, said he would still lead the “national fightback” against the virus from his flat above Number 11.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also tested positive for the virus.

April 5 – PM hospitalised before entering intensive care

Mr Johnson was hospitalised on April, but was moved to an intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital one day later after his condition worsened.

The PM received oxygen support and stayed in intensive care for three nights.

Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab deputised for him during this time.

April 12 – PM leaves hospital

The PM was discharged on April 12 and headed to his country seat of Chequers in Buckinghamshire to recover.

He returned to work on April 27, when he was said to be “raring to go.”

April 29 – Baby Wilfred born

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds announced the birth of a “healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning” on April 29.

A spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning. Both mother and baby are doing very well.

"The PM and Ms Symonds would like to thank the fantastic NHS maternity team."

Congratulations quickly poured in, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "thrilled" for the pair following the birth, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was "wonderful news."

June 8 – PM says “black lives matter” but urges an end to protests

On June 8, Mr Johnson made a statement about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests which sprung up in London following the death of George Floyd.

The PM said: “And so I say yes, you are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter; and to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing – I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.

“But I must also say that we are in a time of national trial, when for months this whole country has come together to fight a deadly plague.”

He added: “So no, I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing, for the obvious reason that we risk a new infection at a critical time and just as we have made huge progress.

“And no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments.”

He finished the statement by saying: “And today, once again, we face a great task: to relaunch this country after Coronavirus.

“So let’s work peacefully, lawfully, to defeat racism and discrimination wherever we find it, and let us continue to work together across all the communities of this country, as we put Britain back on its feet.”

July 15 – UK coronavirus death toll passes 45,000

The UK's coronavirus death toll passed 45,000 on July 15, with the majority of deaths having taken place in England.

The figures includes all deaths where a person tests positive for coronavirus in any setting, but does not necessarily mean the death was caused by coronavirus.

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