Reason Roundup

With Boris Johnson's Election, Britain Gets Its Own Trump

Plus: a crackdown on "hot wife" billboards, a ban on cat declawing, and more...


The conservative, controversial, and buffoonish Boris Johnson has just been elected prime minister of the U.K. A triumphant Johnson promised supporters he would "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn" (leader of the U.K.'s center-left Labor Party).

Like President Donald Trump, Johnson "gained his country's top political office by deploying celebrity, clowning, provocation and a loose relationship with the truth," says the Associated Press.

Johnson's ascension from mayor of London to highest non-monarch position in the country comes not after winning a nationwide general election—the next of which isn't scheduled until May 2022—but courtesy of Conservatives votes only.

The party was asked to pick between Johnson and rival Jeremy Hunt to replace the current Tory prime minister, Theresa May. After what many considered a mismanagement of Brexit, May announced her resignation in May and will step down on Wednesday.

"We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do," said Johnson in a victory speech.

Johnson got 92,153 votes, according to the BBC, while Hunt received 46,656. "Almost 160,000 Conservative members were eligible to vote and turnout was 87.4" percent, the BBC reports.

Whether one finds Johnson's election thrilling or horrifying, it's something "that 12 months ago even his most die hard fans would have found hard to believe," writes the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg. Johnson "is a politician who is hard to ignore," with "a personality, and perhaps an ego, of a scale that few of his colleagues can match. This is a man who even as a child wanted to be 'world king'."

Trump is a fan. On Tuesday morning, he tweeted:

Like Trump, Johnson—a one-time novelist and an editor of The Spectator magazine—has a history of writing and comments that are…not woke, to put it mildly. In 2008, he famously referred to black people as "pickaninnies," later saying he didn't realize the term was offensive. In a 2002 op-ed, he said any problem in Africa "is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more…the best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty."


Hot wife billboards banned. In keeping with this Roundup's U.K. theme, here's an amusing and disturbing look at how U.K. regulations against sexist advertising are playing out. An air-conditioner repair company ran an add that said "Your wife is hot! Better get the air conditioning fixed." This "was ruled inappropriate and banned from a city's buses," notes the BBC:

It was meant to appear on seven buses in Nottingham but Adverta, which places adverts on buses and trams in the city, blocked it and said it could cause offence.

Lee Davies, who designed the ad, said it was "a little bit of harmless fun".

Prof Carrie Paechter, director of the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, said the advert was "like something out of the 1950s" and called for it to be removed. "If I had young children, I wouldn't want them passing that on the way to school, because of the messages it gives them about society," she said.


PayPal dumps child protection group. Federal pressure on payment processors to refuse service to sex workers—even legal ones—is often framed as a measure to stop human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. (Don't ask how, it just is, OK?) Now even groups that work with sexually exploited minors may be getting caught up in the dragnet.