Britain's New Top Diplomat Has Offended a Lot of People

Critics stunned by Boris Johnson's new job
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2016 5:04 AM CDT
Updated Jul 14, 2016 6:34 AM CDT
Britain's New Top Diplomat Has Offended a Lot of People
Boris Johnson sips from his frothy coffee as he talks to voters on the final day of campaigning before the Brexit vote.   (Andrew Parsons/PA via AP)

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the people of Papua New Guinea, and many others around the world have something in common: They've all been insulted at one point or another by Boris Johnson, Britain's new top diplomat. The colorful former mayor of London and prominent Brexit supporter was appointed as foreign secretary by new Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The move was greeted with disbelief by critics who noted that over a long career in politics and journalism, Johnson has offended many of the people and countries he will be dealing with in his new role. A partial list, per the Atlantic, Slate, and the Washington Post:

  • President Obama. In April, Johnson responded to Obama's suggestion that the UK would be better off staying in the EU by noting that a bust of Winston Churchill had been removed from the Oval Office, possibly because it was "a symbol of the part-Kenyan President's ancestral dislike of the British empire."

  • Hillary Clinton. "She's got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital," Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column in 2007.
  • George W. Bush. In the Spectator in 2003, Johnson described the president as "a cross-eyed Texan warmonger, unelected, inarticulate, who [epitomizes] the arrogance of American foreign policy."
  • Donald Trump. "The only reason I wouldn't visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump," Johnson said late last year.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Johnson not only insulted the Turkish leader, he won first prize in a contest to compose an offensive poem about him. "There was a young fellow from Ankara, Who was a terrific wankerer. Till he sowed his wild oats with the help of a goat, But he didn't even stop to thankera," Johnson wrote.
  • Papua New Guinea. Conservative Party members "have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing," he wrote in 2006, a decade before the party turmoil that put May in power.
  • Liverpool. Johnson denounced the British city's "mawkish sentimentality" and "unattractive psyche" in 2004 after it held a two-minute silence to mourn a resident kidnapped and killed by insurgents in Iraq.
The Guardian reports that reactions around the world to Johnson's appointment range from amusement to bemusement to anger. His support for Brexit has made him particularly unpopular in EU countries. "There's justice after all. As foreign minister, Boris Johnson now has to lie in the bed he made himself," tweeted the deputy editor of Germany's Bild tabloid. (Johnson, who was born in New York, gave up US citizenship after being hit with a huge American tax bill.)

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