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How Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson Suddenly Became the Most Powerful Man in Britain

For now, anyway. It’s not going well.
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If you live outside of the U.K., you may be used to thinking of Boris Johnson (if you think of him at all) as that quirky, disheveled British guy who used to run London. You know, the funny mayor with the messy hair? It’s hard not to smile at a man who managed to retain public popularity even after getting stuck midway on a zip wire. Well, things have changed for Boris recently. As you’ll have heard by now, Johnson has been the main face of the campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union. Following Leave’s win in last Thursday’s referendum, and Prime Minister Cameron’s subsequent resignation, London’s former mayor has abruptly become probably the most powerful person in Britain. And right now, that doesn’t appear to bode at all well for Britain, the future—or even for Boris himself.

Boris doesn’t make the most obvious of Brexit champions, you see. In the past, he has warned against dismantling the E.U., and once made positive noises about expanding it to include Turkey, so his eventual choosing of the Leave side this winter was no foregone conclusion. His arrival was still a great boost to the campaign, removing some of the spotlight from UKIP’s Nigel Farage and his party’s frequently made, frequently denied racist rhetoric.