Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May, wasted no time in making a notable mark on government — she named former London mayor and fervent Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson as the new Foreign Secretary.
To put it mildly, Johnson is a colorful character. Now the man who has had to apologize to entire countries for offending them will act as Britain’s top diplomat (and is subsequently responsible for MI6). Brits and non-Brits alike immediately began pointing out some problematic moments in Johnson’s past pertaining to foreign places or people.
Here are a few of the most questionable things that Boris Johnson has said or done to people across the entire world:
1. “Watermelon smiles”
When Johnson wrote about then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s trip to the Congo in 2002, he sparked outrage for calling local residents “piccaninnies.” “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,” he continued.
2. Upsetting the entire country of Papua New Guinea
Johnson offered an apology to the country for writing in 2006, “For 10 years we in the Tory party have become used to Papua New Guinea–style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing, and so it is with a happy amazement that we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour Party.”
3. Hillary Clinton
Johnson was particularly insulting of the presidential candidate in a 2007 column for the Daily Telegraph, in which he wrote, “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”
4. Donald Trump
Johnson’s insults are not bound by party lines: he also said recently, “The only reason I wouldn’t visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
5. “Dobby the house elf”
He compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to the knobby-looking Harry Potter character in December: “Despite looking a bit like Dobby the House Elf,” Johnson wrote, “he is a ruthless and manipulative tyrant.”
6. President Barack Obama
In a column for right-leaning British tabloid the Sun in April, Johnson implied that Obama removing a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office was “a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire — of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.” The argument drew critiques of being both inconceivable and racist.
7. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Not only did Johnson enter an open contest to pen offensive poetry about Erdogan, but the Spectator selected his poem as the winner. In it, he introduced a goat as a romantic partner for Erdogan, and shamelessly rhymed “Ankara” with “wankerer.”
- The Fight to Save the Salmon
- Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money
- The 'Great Resignation' Is Finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously. Is It Enough?
- Suddenly, Everyone on TV Is Very Rich or Very Poor. What Happened?
- Colin Powell Reflects on His Mistakes in Unpublished TIME Interview
- Business Travel's Demise Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences
- If the U.S. Spends Big on Climate, the Rest of the World Might Follow