In Depth

Boris Johnson’s voting record

PM has been busy making promises to the electorate in first week on the job

Boris Johnson has outlined a series of pledges on Brexit and domestic issues since being elected to lead the UK little more than a week ago.

The new prime minister has promised new infrastructure projects, improvements for education and 20,000 new police officers, in speeches that The Independent says resemble “a pitch usually made to voters during an election campaign”.

Although Johnson has ruled out calling a snap poll in the autumn, yesterday’s by-election in Brecon has left his party with a majority of just one in Parliament.

“The result might increase speculation that Johnson can’t govern, and that he will need to call a general election to try to win a majority for his version of Brexit,” says Bloomberg.

As the new PM continues to outline his pledges for the future, what can we learn from his past record? The Week looks at his voting history in the House of Commons.

Europe

Johnson has generally voted against more EU integration and was for a referendum on the UK’s membership ahead of the Brexit vote in 2016, according to TheyWorkForYou - which calculates the overall stance of MPs based on data from The Public Whip website.

He resigned as foreign secretary in July 2018 over Theresa May’s plans for Brexit, and subsequently voted against her draft withdrawal agreement in the first two meaningful votes, on 15 January and 12 March. However, Johnson finally backed it in the third vote, on 29 March, saying he had reached the “sad conclusion” that it was the only way to ensure Brexit happened.

Foreign conflict

Johnson backed the 2003 vote to use “all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”, which led to the Iraq War. But he has since described the invasion as a “tragic mistake” and a “misbegotten folly”, and voted for investigations into the conflict.

He also backed air strikes against Isis in Syria in December 2015.

Tax and business

The Tory leader has voted for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax and for reducing the rate of corporation tax. He has a mixed record on measures to reduce tax avoidance, and has consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits. Johnson has also consistently voted against higher taxes on banks, and has generally backed having more restrictive regulation of trade union activity.

Environment

The new PM has opposed several measures intended to reduce climate change. These included a vote in March 2016 on setting a decarbonisation target for the UK within six months of June 2016, with annual reviews.

One issue on which he has been in agreement with many environmental campaigners is the planned third runway at Heathrow. Johnson has long opposed the expansion - famously saying that he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers” - but failed to turn up to a crunch vote on whether to approve the project in June 2018. Instead, the then-foreign secretary jetted off to Afghanistan in “what appeared to be a hastily arranged diplomatic trip”, according to The Independent.

Looking further back at his record, he consistently voted against the hunting ban, which was eventually given royal assent in 2004 under Labour.

Social issues and home affairs

Johnson has generally voted in favour of a stricter asylum system, stronger enforcement of immigration rules and mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities. He has a mixed record on voting for the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, despite promising last week that they would be protected following Brexit.

Johnson was not an MP when the House of Commons voted to allow same-sex marriage in 2013, only winning the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in 2015. However, PinkNews notes that despite various “anti-LGBT gaffes” in the 1990s when he was a journalist, Johnson backed equal marriage as London mayor and also “rebelled against his own party on several occasions to back LGBTQ+ rights measures” while serving as MP for Henley, from 2001 to 2008.

Health and education

Johnson has generally voted against smoking bans and was against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life.

He has backed academies and measures to give greater autonomy for schools. Finally, while he backed the Lib Dem campaign to abolish university tuition fees in 2004, he voted against scrapping them in 2017.

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