- May has delivered his last speech as prime minister before submitting his resignation to the Queen of England.
- The conservative ex-leader announced in May his resignation after Parliament for the third time laid down the exit agreement reached with the EU
- His successor, Boris Johnson, will take office this afternoon after an audience at Buckingham Palace and will appoint his Government team
Theresa May officially leaves with a message to her successor, Boris Johnson, whom she has wished “all good luck” in her term. “Much remains to be done. The immediate priority must be to complete the exit of the European Union in a way that works for the entire United Kingdom,” he said in his last speech in front of the door of the official residence of Downing Street before going to Buckingham Palace. “If this task is carried out successfully, it will be a new beginning for the country that can take us beyond the current stagnation and towards a bright future,” he added.
Then, May will present his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, to which he will formally inform that the Conservative Party has a new leader, Johnson, who took this Tuesday with the victory in the formation’s primaries and will go to the palace this afternoon, where the queen will appoint him to the front of the Government. “Your successes will be our successes as a country, and I hope there are many,” said the Prime Minister.
May has also had words of appreciation for his team, institutions and British society. “ Thank you for trusting me,” he said. “Being a prime minister of the United Kingdom is a great honor. The enormous responsibility is offset by the possibility of serving the country. But you don’t achieve anything alone.”
Before appearing on Downing Street, May has attended his last control session in the House of Commons, where he has repeatedly shown his support to his successor. He has also announced that he will continue working in the chamber as a deputy. In his last reply as prime minister to the Labor leader, Jeremy Corbin – who has demanded that general elections be called -, he has suggested that he resigns from his post: “As leader of a party that has accepted that his moment is over, perhaps it’s time for me to do the same. “
The debate, the last one before the summer break, has been marked by mutual accusations about the paralysis in which the EU exit process is plunged. During his final speech, he has extolled the “central” role of Parliament in the political moment currently underway in the United Kingdom.
May resigned on June 7 to see himself in a dead-end in the management of Brexit and since then he has remained as acting prime minister until the election of his successor. This Tuesday, Johnson, who has advocated a radical Brexit in the absence of an agreement, was imposed on other more moderate profiles such as the British Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt. During a brief speech after the announcement of the results, the new leader of the Tories promised a party destroyed by the internal debate that will give “energy to this country” and will be able to execute the process of leaving the EU.
Last week, during one of his last acts as prime minister, May expressed concern about the growing polarization of British society and asked for a “common ground” to be sought in Brexit, insisted on the need to “be prepared for reach compromises. “
The British leader announced at the end of May her resignation as a conservative leader after Parliament had for the third time laid down the exit agreement she had reached with Brussels. ” I tried three times. I think it was right to persevere even when the chances of success were low, but now I think it is clear that the best thing for the country is for a new prime minister to lead that effort,” he said then. In addition to the three parliamentary defeats on key votes, during the previous months, the prime minister also survived a matter of internal confidence in the Conservative Party and a motion of censure in the House of Representatives.
This afternoon, Johnson will take over and give his first speech as premier in front of the same black door on 10 Downing Street that May has crossed for the last time. Then, he will begin to appoint the members of his cabinet and clear doubts about whether or not he will keep some of May’s ministers. Several of them, such as the head of Justice, David Gauke, or the Minister of Economy, Philip Hammond, have submitted their resignation and have already advanced that they will not be part of the Johnson Government.
The radical machismo that indoctrinates women in the ultraconservative churches of Brazil
- A reporter infiltrates mass meetings, local masses and self-help meetings where key religious fundamentalism is promoted for the power of Bolsonaro.
- “You who suffered abuse in childhood, Jesus forgives your guilt,” says a bishop before 10,000 women.
- The most visible figure is Minister Damares, an evangelical pastor at war against “gender ideology” as guilty of women’s problems.
After a long wait in one of the many queues made up exclusively of women, I open my bag so that a girl with a smile on her face and a little hand in her hand can check it carefully: “Ah, my dear, here you are not allowed to enter with mobile, you can go down to store it at a box office, ”he says, pointing to a ladder with the flashlight. An hour and two lines later – we also had to go through a metal detector – we are inside the gigantic Salomão Temple, world headquarters of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, located in São Paulo, for what would be the “Self-Help Meeting ”, A quarterly meeting that gives exclusive guidance for women.
After one of the workers dressed in robes opens the doors, I see in the distance the altar with a golden ark of immense angels and four screens – two the size of movie screens – that exhibit a video of Bishop Edir Macedo, founder and Church leader, kneeling fervently praying. The temple is in mid-light, barely illuminated by the 12 replicas of Jewish menorot, 5 meters high and 300 kilos each, attached to the walls. When all the women are accommodated, the video stops, the 10 thousand LED lamps attached to the roof of the main nave are lit and Edir Macedo appears in person to command the night.
In the Universal Church, only men can be pastors and bishops. The Salomão Temple can accommodate 10,000 seated people. On that night, all the seats were occupied by women and there were many standing.
According to the 2010 Census, women are the majority of the evangelical population of Brazil, with 55.57% of a total of more than 42.3 million people. Among the denominations, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, one of the largest religious organizations in the country, has the highest proportion of women, with just over 59% of its congregation. It is also one of the churches that supported the election of Bolsonaro to the Presidency; The Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), led by the Universal’s licensed bishop, Marcos Pereira, is part of the government’s allied base.
Since the appointment of Pastor Damares Alves as head of the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, a team of reporters from the Public Agency has frequented congresses and conferences aimed at evangelical women (the stories are throughout this report) and has heard stories of women who frequent churches, who frequented them and of pastoralists of the most varied denominations to try to understand to what extent the religious convictions of Damares – an administrator in a constitutionally secular State – command their performance at the head of the ministry.
Bishop Edir Macedo opens the conference by displaying on the screens a Facebook photo of a couple. “See how happy you are, how he exhibits his wife, all proud,” he says. Next, a video filmed with a cell phone shows a man entering a burning car, then reduced to a charred body. “That man, who got into the burning car, is the one in the picture. He discovered his wife with another man. He lost the desire to live. And here I ask you: what about his soul? ”He concludes.
The sermon would continue to tell women that a word is capable of killing a marriage; that they cannot be so anxious – “anxiety is a spirit of Satan,” says the bishop – and that, if we want an enchanted prince, we need to pray to the king [Jesus Christ] because, if we are anxious, the devil will send his prince and he will catch us.
Macedo also says that women need to marry superior men in culture and financial conditions because the husband is the one who must supply the house. “If you were the provider, your marriage would be destined to fail.” The man must be the head of the union and the woman, the body. “My wife replaces my mother, takes care of me and I give her the good and the best. In marriage, the man is Jesus and the woman is the church. ” After some requests for tithes and offerings – encouraged by the reminder of the luxury of where we are. “Are you comfortable? For this here has an expense of more than 5 million reais per month ”- from the sale of the commented Bible and other accessories, the phrase that would mark the night would come. Calling up the women who would like to receive the prayer, the bishop says:
The “Self Help Meeting” is part of a Universal Church program aimed at women, called Godllywood, created by Edir Macedo’s daughter, Cristiane Cardoso, in 2010. Cristiane is also the author of a blog, of several books that define what it is to be a virtuous woman and, in the company of the husband, Bishop Renato Cardoso, leads television programs with names in English that teach heterosexual couples to succeed in the relationship.
According to the official site’s explanation, “Godllywood, was born from a revolt over the wrong values that our society has acquired through Hollywood [Godllywood’s ‘God’ means God in English]. In this work, our main objective is to lead young women to become exemplary women and contrary to Hollywood influences and impositions that develop family ties that have been lost in recent years. ”
It works more or less as a mixture of brotherhood and gymkana, in which women, divided by age groups, have to fulfill daily, weekly and monthly tasks that range from not eating carbohydrates to getting their nails, hairstyles, taking care of the house and prepare dinner for the husband. Who does not comply with the rules is removed from the group, which even has specific courses for women in situations of violence, for example.
Mother, of blood or spirit, honored wife, whether by union already consecrated or by destiny; eternal bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those were the main references of what it is to be a woman in three evangelical churches whose spaces I frequented in this month of May – the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, the Apostolic Church Reborn in Christ and the Batista Church of Lagoinha, where Minister Damares preaches Alves.
“Nobody here believes that men have to wash their clothes, don’t they?” Asks Professor Fernanda Lellis, waking up a series of condescending giggles among the nearly 60 women, of all ages, mostly black, gathered in the last Salomão Temple floor. “Women have a duty to care, make food, order,” he continues into the microphone, walking from one place to another, in front of a golden pulpit. “The woman first has to play her role, leave the man happy, and from there he will treat her well too. It is like that, we endure more. ”
The teacher of the Raabe Project Self-Knowledge Course, created to help women who suffered trauma such as domestic violence, sexual abuse or psychological illness, quotes Ephesians 5: 22-24: “You, women, subject your husbands, as to the Lord; because the husband is the head of the woman. ” And he concludes, imperative: “Change your reference women, be better!”
Raabe, according to the Book of Joshua, the sixth of the Old Testament, was a prostitute who lived in Jericho and supposedly helped the Israelites in capturing the city. According to the Godllywood site, Raabe was purified.
The advisers of the Raabe Project, according to Lellis, are now “pretty” women, but they came to that place depressed, violent or even with memories of sexual abuse they suffered when they were girls. “Today they are all workers, Levites or pastor’s wives.” And they all wear black clothes and red scarves tied around their neck, in reference to Raabe, who hung a scarlet ribbon at the entrance of her house so as not to be killed in the invasion of Jericho.
One of those counselors met me at the illuminated Salomão Temple. They handed me a pamphlet with the slogan “breaking the silence” that included information on spiritual and professional care, as well as legal and social guidance for women who suffer domestic violence and abuse. Then it became clear, however, that Lellis was only a mediator. The true teacher would appear only on video.
From his office, Cristiane Cardoso, the daughter of Edir Macedo, used ten minutes to explain how “self-knowledge” was important to save his marriage to Bishop Renato Cardoso. “I didn’t know about my failures, insecurities, and I believed that I would only solve my problems if there were others who changed. We believe that it is the fault of the other person and not ours. ” She continues to tell about the jealousy crises she felt, equating her experience to that of women who suffer domestic violence.
The pedagogy of enumerating defects in a course whose target audience is traumatized and violent women had already been applied in the first lesson of the course: “Without regret, write who you have been until today, describe your qualities, describe your defects,” he said paper.
The heiress of the religious-media empire emphasizes that the woman was created to help in an ideal way, with the appropriate qualities – which includes from taking care of the appearance until not showing off independence. “Over the years the woman was losing those qualities, developing several defects. If you do not understand the correct references of women, you will suffer, ”he says categorically.
That line of reasoning is then retaken by Fernanda. She raises her finger up to point out that the first lie the world tells us, women, is that we are equal to men. “Today women are ’empowered’, and that is why so many people are killing themselves, suffering, with depression.”
The conversation was not very different in the three hours of women’s worship that I attended in the hall of the Renacer church. The cult is celebrated on Wednesdays from 2:30 p.m., a schedule that mainly brings together women of the upper-middle-class seniors. Between singing church songs and participating in a cosmetics raffle, the nearly 30 women present heard a testimony from a person who decided to leave the job to become a successful accessory entrepreneur. In response to the comment that today she is, financially, “the man of the house,” Pastor Edilene Gimenez takes the floor.
“I always earned more than my husband. When I converted, I prayed that God would honor him professionally and promised that when that happened I would dedicate my life to the church. ” Said and done. When her husband, also Bishop of Renacer, set up a promising company, Edilene left the job. “Our first ministry is to take care of our family. You can even be a mother who has children, but you generate spiritual fruits. You are all spiritual mothers, ”reaffirms the pastor.
For single women, the evangelical churches reserve the role of “Jesus’ brides”, as explained by the pastoralists of Lagoinha, colleagues of Minister Damares. On Saturday, May 11, the headquarters of the church in downtown São Paulo was the scene of a surprise parade of brides, after the cult. The young assiduous women of the church showed fancy dresses provided by the BlackTie and Faggion brands.
“The Lord sees the church as a bride and we as Jesus’ girlfriends,” says Pastor Vanessa Santos before the parade, asking the nearly 40 women present, mostly young, to shake hands and repeat aloud: “Woman, You are not alone, you are the bride. ”
Another pastor invited to the event, Vanessa Batista, focuses her intervention on behavioral recommendations for women, “It is very important to have a cheerful look and a nice physiognomy,” he recommended. “A cheerful woman changes the atmosphere of the home. An annoying woman too. ”
After the conversation, the girls were taken downstairs. A corridor illuminated with neon and divided by large buqués of white roses was the setting for the wedding of Jesus’ brides. The faithful paraded to the sound of the international gospel, while the audience applauded each new white model. The mission was accomplished: young women and girls were dazzled by the brightness of God’s blessed marriage.
Control of personal life
The anthropologist, professor at the University of São Paulo (USP) and researcher at the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap) Jacqueline Moraes Teixeira investigates gender issues in evangelical churches since 2010. According to her, beyond the clearly defined gender roles between the authority of men and the submission of women, rules imposed by programs such as Godllywood (which are reproduced in different ways in other denominations) are intended to direct the lives of women in all their aspects, beyond the spiritual. Through control – which becomes self-control in the most varied ways – domination is imposed.
“That language of control is not only in churches, but it is also a language disseminated in the way people think of this contemporary world. Perhaps the difference is that, in Brazil, churches are responsible for that management, they help people develop that habit of controlling themselves. Not to spend hours praying or to memorize so many Bible verses. They challenge them to lose weight, to control the time of use of social networks or how much money you spend, that is, it is an ethic of everyday life, ”he explains.
That life management also appears in the testimonies of success, important tools for evangelical churches. “You are all the time following those rules, and, when other people testify, they talk about how much they lost weight, that they managed to set up a business, that they got a relationship. That is, that conversion is a recovery of civil life, it is not a recovery of religious life. ”
The “testimony” tool, heard by all of us in the cults and conferences we frequent throughout these months, also appears very strong in the speeches of Minister Damares, as Jacqueline observes: “She is a woman who declares that she suffered sexual violence in childhood. In these courses and projects, it is very common for women to reveal that they suffered sexual violence in childhood. They say they only managed to recover the moment they were converted. And Damares says that it was the conversion that made him realize what his life was. That is always the central argument of those testimonies. “
Minister Damares has a speech that is born of victory, a victory that opens important paths: she becomes a parliamentary advisor, political advisor and becomes a minister. “I have deep disagreements with what she says because it is very difficult to deal with someone who is in such an important public position, stating certain things,” says Jacqueline, “but for thousands of women she embodies a path of overcoming.”
An afternoon with the disciple of Pastor Damares
“Dr. Damares, we are with you for life, for childhood, and for the family. Together, we are stronger, ”shouted the choir formed mostly by teachers, in the Assembly of God church, in Contagem, Belo Horizonte metropolitan region. It was a Sunday afternoon, February 10. The church was full, with hundreds of women from various regions of the State to participate in the “Connect Kids and Pastor Conference – Defenders of a Generation in Peril” conference, with Dr. Damares Alves, missionary Joani Bentes, better known as Tía Jô, and the special participation of Aunt Keyla.
At the last minute, the newly appointed Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights could not be in the event but recorded a video to the congressmen, which was broadcast on the screen. They all stood up to return the message, which would be transmitted by their friend and disciple, Aunt Jô. “Let God use you to heal, let God use you to save, while He uses you, He takes care of everything that makes you cry,” those present continue, now in song.
The congress began minutes after two in the afternoon. Arriving participants confirmed their name on the list and handed them a sealed voucher for the snack. A bread, an apple, and a juice. The course cost 65 reais for those who signed up until December 31 and 70 reais for that to which the deadline was passed. The promotional poster includes the content of each of the speakers. Creative teaching methods, therapeutic biblical history, and musicalization would be taught by Tía Jô. Damares would talk about child eroticization, abuse, abuse, pedophilia and “gender ideology.”
On the night before the event, however, a WhatsApp message with a video of the missionary canceling the participation of Minister Damares was sent to all registered, “due to the number of threats she has suffered,” justified Tía Jô.
Before the pastor entered the Bolsonaro government, the two toured Brazil together giving lectures for educators in the worship of the Assembly of God. Today, 45 years old, Joani Bentes has been a missionary for 27 years. In her curriculum, Tía Jô highlights the following titles: Christian educator, lecturer, television and radio presenter, writer with three published books, singer with five CDs and ten recorded DVDs, International speaker Married also to a pastor, who accompanies her in missions and business administration, Tía Jô also has a virtual store where she sells her CDs, DVDs, dolls, t-shirts, accessories, books, clothes, and cosmetics with her brand. “Buying any product you will be helping projects under development: Sertão da Bahia, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Nepal, Peru”, The ad says at the beginning of the site. Wherever she goes, she loads the products, exposed at the entrance of the church.
The profile is from a children’s presenter. Aunt Jô wore a blue-white polka dot ruffled skirt, a yellow blouse from Conectar Kids, two pigtails tied with flowers. During almost all of her presentation, she speaks in a girl’s voice. The tone only changed when he introduced the theme of Damares, after transmitting the video of the pastor.
“What I am going to show you now is an exception for us. You have to turn off all phones now. If any cell phone were turned on, we stop the video. That nobody transmits or record in audio or video, please. I promised the judiciary and the Public Ministry, I promised my friend Dr. Damares that it would be something of ours. ” Damares then appears on the screen, in a recording made from Brasilia.
“It has been a very difficult day for this minister. I accepted the invitation to be a minister thinking especially about the protection of children, the protection of adolescents in this country. And I want, everything I proclaimed my whole life, to bring him to this ministry. There are many of my challenges. You have no idea how great my challenges have been, but the greatest has even been the attacks, ”said Damares. “If it depends on this minister, no child will be abused in Brazil. If it depends on this minister, no child will be hurt or will be buried alive as it happens in some villages in Brazil, ”he promised.
Damares also talked about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. “Pain in the body, how I suffered pain in the body but suffered pain in the soul. Do you know why? Because nobody perceived that I was being abused. Nobody protected me when I was 6 years old, nobody told me what was happening, ”he recalled. “The media laugh at my story, the press laughs at my story, artists laugh at my story, but they couldn’t have laughed at the faith of a 10-year-old girl. They made fun of me when I said that at 10 years old, on top of a guava tree trying to kill myself, that I saw Jesus Christ. I know that I saw it. It was he and I in that guava tree ”[the video in which he tells the story during a cult went viral on Brazilian social networks], he guaranteed. “Let’s join together and say enough of violence, enough of pain, enough of suffering and let’s say Jesus Christ is the Lord of the children of Brazil. Receive my hug, at the next conference I promise to be there with you. I love you, God bless you, ”concluded the minister.
“Ah, Bolsonaro won, he is in favor of childhood and family, the war has just begun. Now the war began, now we have to pray more, now we have to work more, ”reinforces Tía Jô just after.
In the material delivered to the congressmen, Damares highlights the gender ideology as “one of the most terrible violence against our children.” She cites four themes that gender ideology defends and that are in the educational books and in education policy today in Brazil: deconstruction of the natural family, deconstruction of heteronormativity, the child’s right to sexual pleasure, deconstruction and identity subversions ( confusion in biological identity).
Among the practical actions to react to the gender ideology, Damares suggests educators to ask children to take school bags for the church to analyze the books and teaching materials they are studying; Orient parents to notify the school that they do not want children to learn about gender ideology; they make doll hats, carts encounter, princess cults; to guide parents in relation to girls’ clothes, demonstrating the need to strengthen femininity, and toys and games with children to reinforce masculinity; and that contextualize the stories told and the games that are made with the children in the church, always highlighting that there are girls games and boys games.
According to Damares, there is still an attack on the faith of children and adolescents in schools. “Observe that the laws determine the teaching of indigenous culture and Afro culture, but unfortunately many teachers are making fun of the law, teaching Afro religion and indigenous religion,” says the minister’s text.
After going through all those issues in the Damares brochure, a snack break, and Tía Jô returns by introducing its content, with creative methods for educators to address religious issues with children. “I can take my Adam and Eve dolls and say that the father of heaven covered them, protecting their private parts,” he says. The seminar ended promptly at 6 pm. From Contagem Tía Jô set out on a missionary visit in the Bahia sertón. (Alice Maciel)
* The names of the interviewees were changed to preserve their identities.
The British Economy Minister resigns before Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister
- Philip Hammond presents his resignation as Minister of Economy for his differences around Brexit with Johnson.
- He is the third minister who leaves his post in less than 24 hours. Yesterday the ministers of Justice, David Gauke, and International Cooperation, Rory Stewart did.
- The British press speculates that the current Interior Minister, Sajid Javid, could be chosen to replace Hammond in charge of Economics.
The Minister of Economy of the United Kingdom, Philip Hammond, presented his resignation on Wednesday, hours before the official appointment of Boris Johnson as the new British prime minister.
In a letter addressed to the still Prime Minister, Theresa May, the current “chancellor” has indicated that his successor “must have the freedom” to elect a Minister of Economy “fully aligned with his political position.” As he has stated on numerous occasions, Hammond is not in favor of leaving the European Union without an agreement, a scenario that Johnson does not rule out.
The conservative politician has pointed out in the letter that “despite the uncertainty generated by Brexit”, his ministry has been able to create “remarkable progress in the reconstruction of public finances”, as well as preparing the British economy for “the opportunities that are yet to come”.
Hammond becomes the third minister who resigns in less than 24 hours for Johnson’s election yesterday as a new premier with the support of 66% of Tories affiliates in internal elections in which he defeated the head of Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Hunt.
The Ministers of Justice, David Gauke, and International Cooperation, Rory Stewart, yesterday presented two resignations, as did the Secretary of State for Education, Anne Milton, and the British Secretary of State for Europe and the Americas, Alan Duncan.
Johnson will have this afternoon the rigor hearing with Queen Elizabeth II, with which her appointment will be formalized, and then she will begin to make known the names of the ministers who will integrate her cabinet.
The British press speculates that the current Interior Minister, Sajid Javid, could be chosen to replace Hammond in charge of Economics, while the name of the former International Cooperation Minister Priti Patel sounds for the Interior.
Laughter, sex and lies: Boris Johnson’s path from journalism to the top of politics
- Boris Johnson has everything in favor to be proclaimed as the new leader of the conservative party and succeed Theresa May at the helm of the United Kingdom.
- He was the director of the conservative magazine The Spectator and never stopped writing
- The sexual scandals in which he has been involved have not been an obstacle to his career as president
When Conrad Black, then owner of The Spectator and Daily Telegraph, and his wife Barbara decided to offer a party in honor of Boris Johnson, the director of their magazine and aspiring politician, he had already disappointed them. The journalist, who kept climbing, had promised Black that he would give up a career as a political representative to preside over the weekly. But almost at the same time, he appeared to occupy a seat as a deputy.
When the Blacks opened the doors of their eleven-room house in the Kensington neighborhood that night of 2011, Johnson was no longer just the magazine’s director. He was the candidate of the Conservative Party in the Henley district and enjoyed a well-deserved and well-established reputation of being someone able to get away with it.
One of the highlights of the party was the performance of Kit and the Widow, a satirical duo. One of the guests was left with the refrain: “That the impudence is so sordid it should be appreciated and rewarded (…) As it continues towards public life / that the honor is recognized / of having got rid of such a liar / that the BoJo phenomenon is praised. ”
“If Boris wants to present himself to Number 10 [of Downing Street, the home of the first painter], the Telegraph is with him,” the owner said. No one took him seriously. “Everyone murmured with an incredulous laugh of just imagining it,” according to that witness.
Johnson’s tenure as director of The Spectator between 1999 and 2005 overlapped in part with his seven years as a conservative deputy for Henley. He also wrote a column for Telegraph, engine parts for GQ and even books. In addition, although for a short time and with disastrous results, he was part of the first parliamentary row of the conservatives and was a Tory spokesperson for cultural policies since the opposition.
His period at the helm of The Spectator was so colorful that the conservative weekly ended up being known as the ‘Sextator’ after its director (Johnson) and a star columnist were involved in various scandals and only Johnson managed to keep his political career alive.
He had already barely gotten rid of being fired in 2004 by who then led the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, due to an editorial that appeared in the magazine without a signature – which in fact he had not written but Simon Heffer – in which he was accused to the city of Liverpool to enjoy “victim status” after the kidnapping and murder in Iraq of Kenneth Bigley, who was born in the city. In the end, and after being forced to travel to Merseyside, the district of which Liverpool is a part, to apologize in person, Johnson endured. But it ended up falling a month later.
It was the time it took to discover that he had maintained a sporadic relationship with Petronella Wyatt, columnist of the magazine. Johnson had been married to Marina Wheeler since 1993 and had four young children. Wyatt became pregnant and had an abortion in a private hospital just two weeks before that trip to Liverpool. Johnson supported the decision even though he initially refused to pay the bill, which amounted to £ 1,500 (just over 1,600 euros). When the Sunday Mail on Sunday asked him about what happened, he lied: “I have not had a relationship with Petronella. Everything is nonsense. An inverted pyramid of nonsense.”
Shortly after Wyatt’s mother confirmed the facts. When the Dominicans were about to get the story out, Johnson came to tell a journalist “publish and you’ll sink.” Two hours later he was dismissed from the conservative cabinet. He had lied about his extramarital affair and his political career broke into pieces.
Andrew Gimson, who then served as head of international at The Spectator, was also Johnson’s first biographer. Remember that at that time the name of his boss sounded like a possible candidate to lead the party. “In 2005, Boris realized that he could not compete for leadership. He had already shown that he could not be trusted. It was his connection with The Spectator that saved him,” Gimson said. “He could not stand the fact that (David) Cameron had won, but he himself was the one who put himself in an unassuming situation with Petronella, one in which he could not keep everyone satisfied,” he acknowledged.
Johnson drove the weekly at the same time he presented himself to the mayor of London. He held the position of more responsibility but the day-to-day affairs he delegated to his second, Stuart Reid, which led to the process of commissioning the articles becoming somewhat chaotic and some of the authors still do not know if some of the pieces that Johnson asked urgently will be published someday.
Johnson’s team has not answered The Guardian’s questions about his time in The Spectator. For those who worked there at that time most of the memories are pleasant. Peter Osborne, who was head of politics, remembers that he was barely getting directions from Johnson beyond a “two or three minute Sunday night call that was enough.” Johnson “never told me what to write,” he said. He also noted that despite having a very close knowledge of what was happening in the Conservative Party, he gave few advice to his journalists.
Editorial meetings, when they happened, drifted very often to the fun. “It didn’t matter so much if you had a story or not as long as you had a joke,” Gimson recalls. “And if you didn’t have them, he already had them,” he adds.
Telling jokes was a serious and competitive issue in a header that also had journalistic successes. Although Osborne took the story, it was The Spectator who had the exclusive that Tony Blair had tried to reach an agreement and a role of greater importance than those established for the prime minister in the wake of the queen mother. Alastair Campbell, director of communications of Blair, went to the Complaints Commission on the Press but the weekly came out unscathed and Campbell eventually resigned after a senior officer of Parliament refused to confirm the version of events offered by the office of the First Minister.
Surrounded by sex scandals
Johnson’s period in the magazine came to an end when the once lenient Black, short of money, lost control of the header. Its new owners, the Barclay brothers, appointed as chief executive Andrew Neil, a man of higher moral standards. “We want a period of calm,” he said during the height of the ‘Sextator’ scandal. Johnson left his position as director a year later.
Few of these dramas had any impact on the town of Henley, where Johnson was again nominated as a party candidate in 2000. He had become one of the three finalists thanks to the perception that his presence would boost the campaign in the neighborhoods. In one of the rallies, held in Benson’s auditorium, 500 people appeared. Barry Brown, a local party activist, then confessed that the faces of most of those present did not ring. “There were many people we had never seen. People who had never had anything to do with us,” he said.
Even Johnson himself had expressed concern that the other two candidates, lawyers David Platt and Jill Andrew, were better prepared. Platt was the favorite but his cause had been damaged by questions that arose as to why he was not married. “My biggest advantage over David Platt was that I had a wife who was smiling radiantly with an elegant flower coat that fits perfectly in the front row of every relevant public appearance,” Johnson wrote in his 2001 book ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’ (‘Friends, voters, compatriots’). He won by a handful of votes.
Richard Pullen, whose wife, Maggie, was the president of the party committee in the constituency at the time of the campaign, added that “the managing committee did not really like that (Johnson) was elected. That night we left him and came here ( to Pullen’s house) to drink champagne with the other candidates. We didn’t think he deserved to have won. “
With a thriving seat secured, sitting in the House of Commons was not going to be difficult. He won the Liberal Democrats in 2001 by 8,458 votes and by 12,793 in the following elections. Labor governed the country, so Johnson did not have to defend unpopular policies approved by a government of his own party.
Richard Reed, the head of news at Henley Standard, the newspaper in the area for which Johnson was a deputy was not – like most voters – very upset with what the national press wrote about his representative. “We were not worried,” he said. “It’s not what our newspaper does, parish in many ways and with little interest in bad news,” he said.
“Maggie was always surprised that Henley’s women did not criticize her adventures. Not only that, most believed that the person responsible was Marina,” added Pullen in reference to Johnson’s wife.
At that time and despite performing two jobs most of the time, Johnson wrote without stopping. In his perhaps most notable piece, ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’, he said that despite his Euroscepticism he believed that the interests of the United Kingdom were “in balance by staying within the European Union.”
“It has brought palpable benefits to Britain in free trade and in guaranteeing the right of free movement and institutions in the European Union to British citizens. A withdrawal could mean a potentially worrying loss of influence,” Johnson wrote.
In 2004 he published a novel, ‘Seventy Two Virgins’ (‘Seventy-two virgins’), starring an unfortunate conservative deputy so worried about the possibility that his misdeeds end up in a tabloid sensationalist who fails to realize a terrorist attack that It happens in front of him.
The book leads the reader to think that the crime committed by Roger Barlow is just a small adventure. However, in the final pages, it is revealed that the newspaper was going to report that the deputy had invested 20,000 pounds in an underwear company that in turn covered a plot of prostitution. Johnson wrote that “Barlow had lost himself in the matrix of behavior, strange and hypocritical, imposed by the tabloids on the behavior of public and semi-public figures. He was lost.”
The novel is full of very racially charged characters. A black parking watchman named Eric is described as “an eighty meter of anthracite beauty” with cheek scars proving “he was a royal blood prince of the Hausa tribe” in Lagos, Nigeria. A group of Kosovar Muslims has “eyes that burn, hooked noses and black hairy eyebrows.”
Barlow’s American assistant, Cameron, is described as someone of “deep and sexist reverence to men who really know things.” “He was sometimes surprised at how little appearances mattered. He could be bald, thin, sweaty or plump but if what the man had to say was of sufficient interest, fluidity, and authority, he spoke directly to the crotch,” Johnson wrote.
The opportunity to rejoice in such fantasies seems far from the daily tasks and responsibilities of a prime minister. Some people who have worked with him wonder if he is ready for the job.
“I don’t think it’s something I will enjoy,” said Andy McSmith, a veteran political journalist who has written about Labor and unions for The Spectator in Johnson’s time. “It’s not about deciding who is going to attend The Spectator’s next meal or getting rid of a column. Much of what a prime minister does is boring. Meetings with boring heads of state, presence on committees, keeping people happy. I don’t think that’s what motivates him, “he said.
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