Eastbourne Ashridge Circle|Founded 1947

Lecture Date: September 23, 2024



A penetrating analysis by an expert political historian of how it all went wrong for the charismatic former Prime Minister.

When Boris Johnson won the December 2019 election with a hefty overall majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons, all seemed set fair for him to enjoy a long and fruitful period as Prime Minister of the UK and for his party to extend greatly their time in government; probably well beyond the 5-year electoral term.

Yet, in less than three years – in the autumn of 2022 – he handed over the baton, famously saying in his resignation speech outside No 10 Downing Street that he “hadn’t realised I was in a relay race.”

From the outset he faced the task of getting Brexit over the line, which he duly achieved, but what he had not expected was the challenge of managing a pandemic of unprecedented proportions, leading to the locking-down of the nation for prolonged periods with its profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of the British people.

It was primarily his handling of this national emergency – and in particular his management of Number 10 staff exercising a cavalier disregard for their own severe social restrictions nationwide – that brought about his premature downfall. This lecture will analyse what really went on behind the scenes.

Sir Anthony Seldon is a British educator and contemporary historian, well known for his political biographies of successive British Prime Ministers from John Major to Johnson. He is the former headmaster of prominent independent schools including Brighton College.