Boris Johnson’s long litany of undiplomatic insults

Boris Johnson’s appointment as foreign secretary is likely to raise eyebrows after he blazed a trail of high-profile gaffes and controversies on the international stage.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna and, more improbably, the US pop star Cher were among those to comment after the appointment of the blond Brexiteer-in-chief to the UK’s top diplomatic post.

Outgoing US president Barack Obama, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among those who Mr Johnson has turned his attention to in recent weeks.

In April the MP for Uxbridge and Ruislip was criticised for describing Mr Obama as a “part-Kenyan” who harboured an “ancestral dislike” of Britain.

He made the comments in a newspaper article in April after the US’s first black president came out in favour of the Remain campaign during a visit to Britain.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, whose father was Nigerian, tweeted after Mr Johnson’s new role was revealed, saying: “Foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s first official meeting with president Obama will be interesting. Suggest it starts with the word ‘sorry’”.

Mr Johnson followed his comments on Mr Obama by winning £1,000 (€1,200) in a competition run by the Spectator magazine the following month, for a limerick he composed describing Mr Erdogan having sex with a goat and calling him a “wankerer”, to rhyme with the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Last November local officials called off a visit to Palestine on safety grounds after the then-London mayor told an audience in Tel Aviv that a trade boycott of Israeli goods was “completely crazy” and supported by “corduroy, jacketed, snaggle- toothed, lefty academics in the UK”.

Palestinian officials accused him of adopting a “misinformed and disrespectful” pro-Israel stance and said he risked creating protests if he visited the West Bank, although Mr Johnson claimed his comments were “very much whipped up” on social media.

The month previously he had made a more light-hearted gaffe when he was filmed knocking over a 10-year-old Japanese schoolboy during a game of street rugby on a visit to Tokyo.

In 2008 Mr Johnson apologised for a Daily Telegraph column written six years previously, while the MP for Henley, in which he described the Queen being greeted in Commonwealth countries by “flag-waving piccaninnies” — a derogatory term for black children.

The same column mentioned then prime minister Tony Blair being greeted by “tribal warriors who will all break out in watermelon smiles” on an upcoming visit to the Congo.

In a November 2007 column in the same paper he described Hillary Clinton as having “a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.


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