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King of gaffes: A list of almost everyone Boris Johnson has insulted

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson has been named as Britain’s new foreign secretary by prime minister Theresa May, a shocking move as the Tory leader is well-known for his controversial remarks.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2016 00:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Boris Johnson,Theresa May,Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary
Boris Johnson, new British Prime Minister Theresa May's surprise choice for foreign minister, is known for his eye-popping gaffes. (Reuters)

Controversial Tory leader and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson has been named as Britain’s new foreign secretary, a move that has both shocked and amused the international community.

In his new role, the former London mayor will be required to foster Britain’s relationships with other countries, but Johnson’s track record suggests that his tenure may be marked by more diplomatic crises than wins.

When it comes to politically incorrect, and frankly, racist or offensive remarks, Johnson is a gift that keeps on giving. Offending entire countries and cities, insulting heads of state, throwing in a racist or sexist joke or two - is all in a day’s work for Britain’s new foreign secretary.

A not-so-exhaustive list of everyone Boris has insulted in his inimitable style:

1. Insulting other countries: In 2002, when the then British prime minister Tony Blair was on an official visit to Congo, Johnson wrote in The Telegraph: “No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down”.

In 2006, clearly not having learnt any lesson, he had toapologise to the country of Papua New Guinea for suggesting that they were prone to “orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing”.

2. Insulting British cities: If you can offend countries, there is nothing to stop you from a spot of homegrown stereotyping. Johnson described the city of Portsmouth as “one of the most depressed downs in southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”.

3. Insulting heads of state: In an otherwise serious column on the war in Syria, Johnson compared Russian President Vladimir Putin, who prides himself on his physique and martial skills, to a house-elf from Harry Potter. “Despite looking a bit like Dobby the House Elf, he is a ruthless and manipulative tyrant,”he wrote.

But this seems mild compared to thelimerickhe wrote for Turkish President Erdogan, suggesting a goat should be his sexual partner and clumsily rhyming ‘wankerer’ with Turkish city Ankara.

Read| Boris Johnson: From fallen Brexiteer to foreign minister

4. Insulting America’s current president: On April 22 this year, Johnson wrote a column for right-leaning tabloid The Sun, inexplicably blaming Barack Obama for removing a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, as a “symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire—of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”

5. Insulting America’s potential president: Johnson also holds the dubious distinction insulting both of America’s presidential candidates, which should make the US-UK partnership fun under his tenure. He compared Hillary Clinton to “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital” with her “dyed blonde hair” and “steely blue stare” in a 2007 column.

And though many feel he has an uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump, in both appearance and ideology, it did not stop Johnson from uttering this gem: “The only reason I wouldn’t visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

6. Insulting the EU: Of course, as the poster boy for Brexit, Johnson has no love lost for the European Union. But sample his snarky summing up of the union: “First they make us pay in our taxes for Greek olive groves, many of which probably don’t exist. Then they say we can’t dip our bread in olive oil in restaurants. We didn’t join the Common Market – betraying the New Zealanders and their butter – in order to be told when, where and how we must eat the olive oil we have been forced to subsidise.”

7. Insulting homosexuals: Though he now supports LGBT rights, in one of his books, Johnson thought it was good idea to say this: “If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.”

8. Insulting voters: Johnson also made this cringe-worthy sexist joke to lure voters: “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.”

First Published: Jul 15, 2016 00:25 IST