Passport

Goodbye Boris Johnson, We Hardly Knew Ye

Boris Johnson will not seek Britain's prime minister position. Oh, what could have been.

Brexit campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson waves after addressing a press conference in central London on June 30, 2016. 
Top Brexit campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson said Thursday he will not stand to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, as had been widely expected after Britain's vote to leave the European Union. The British pound spiked Thursday immediately after Boris Johnson said he will not stand in the Conservative leadership race. / AFP / LEON NEAL        (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Brexit campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson waves after addressing a press conference in central London on June 30, 2016. Top Brexit campaigner and former London mayor Boris Johnson said Thursday he will not stand to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, as had been widely expected after Britain's vote to leave the European Union. The British pound spiked Thursday immediately after Boris Johnson said he will not stand in the Conservative leadership race. / AFP / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

And that’s that. It hasn’t even been a full week since Britain voted to leave the European Union and the most fun part has already been taken away from us: predicting what the future of the country would look like if moppy-haired Boris Johnson —  the ex-mayor of London who once said he may have tried cocaine but then accidentally sneezed it all out — were elected prime minister.

On Thursday, Johnson announced he would not seek to take over Prime Minister David Cameron’s position following Cameron’s announcement he would resign in the wake of the Brexit vote last week. Instead, Johnson will step aside to allow his ally, Michael Gove, the chance to run for the seat.

“Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me,” Johnson said. “My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration, to make sure that we properly fulfill the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum, and to champion the agenda I believe in.”

Johnson’s backing of Gove comes as an unexpected twist in the now five-way race for prime minister, as Gove was largely expected to come out in favor of Johnson’s candidacy. Home Secretary Theresa May, a conservative who supported staying in the government bloc, is expected to be Gove’s top competitor. Even Gove seemed surprised by the turn of events, saying Thursday that he “repeatedly said”  he did not want the seat.

“That has always been my view,” Gove said. “But events since last Thursday have weighed heavily with me.”

His change of heart obviously had something to do with Johnson, specifically. On Thursday, he said he had come “to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

As an ode to what might have been with Boris, Foreign Policy brings you some of his best quotes below:

On Ping Pong:

“Ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century, and it was called Wiff-waff!”

On Food:

“There is absolutely no one, apart from yourself, who can prevent you, in the middle of the night, from sneaking down to tidy up the edges of that hunk of cheese at the back of the fridge.”

“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.”

On Being Stuck on a Zipline:

On Drugs:

Cannabis: “It was jolly nice. But apparently it is very different these days. Much stronger. I’ve become very illiberal about it. I don’t want my kids to take drugs.”

Cocaine: “I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed so it didn’t go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar.”

On Knocking Over a Small Child While Playing Rugby:

And of course, his feelings on the EU he so much did not want to be a part of:

“First they make us pay in our taxes for Greek olive groves, many of which probably don’t exist. Then they say we can’t dip our bread in olive oil in restaurants. We didn’t join the Common Market – betraying the New Zealanders and their butter – in order to be told when, where and how we must eat the olive oil we have been forced to subsidize.”

Photo credit: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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