Who is Boris Johnson? The new Foreign Secretary's most controversial quotes

'If somebody wants to make a joke about the love that flowers between the Turkish president and a goat, he should be able to do so in any European country, including Turkey'

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Wednesday 13 July 2016 23:19
Boris Johnson's most controversial quotes

Boris Johnson’s appointment as Theresa May’s new Foreign Secretary has raised some eyebrows.

From describing Hillary Clinton as looking like a "sadistic nurse" to referring to "flag-waving piccaninnnies with watermelon smiles", the former London mayor has offended a wide range of people.

Here's what he said about...

...Barack Obama

Johnson faced accusations of “dog whistle racism” less than three months ago after he appeared to suggest Barack Obama had a grudge against Britain because of his “part-Kenyan” heritage.

May mocks Boris

Hitting out at the US President for intervening in the Brexit debate, Mr Johnson wrote in The Sun about how he had removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval office.

He said: “No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision. Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President's ancestral dislike of the British Empire - of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”

...Hillary Clinton

In November 2007, Mr Johnson said of Hillary Clinton: “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital."

... black people

Mr Johnson was forced to apologise back in 2008 after the then-London mayoral candidate was presented with his comments, written five years earlier, about black people.

In a column mocking Tony Blair's globetrotting, he wrote: "What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.” It also mentioned "watermelon smiles" – linking black people to an appetite for watermelons is a racist stereotype, particularly common in the US.


In a 2005 column for the Telegraph entitled “Getting our knickers in a twist over China”, Mr Johnson played down the importance of the world’s most populous nation when compared to that of, for example, “the British Empire”.

“We do not need to fear the Chinese,” he said. “China will not dominate the globe. We do not need to teach babies Mandarin.”

“Compared with the old British Empire, and the new American imperium, Chinese cultural influence is virtually nil, and unlikely to increase.”

...the French

In a speech in 2013, Mr Johnson recalled how he had met with the former French PM Alain Juppe, the mayor of Bordeaux at the time and therefore the representative of 239,517 people – the ninth biggest city in France.

Mr Johnson said: “I got the ball back very firmly over the net, folks, because I said there were 250,000 French men and women in London and therefore I was the mayor of the sixth biggest French city on earth.”

...the EU and Hitler

The former London Mayor said in May that the EU was an attempt to recreate the Roman Empire’s united Europe.

“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” he added.

The incendiary comments sparked an immediate backlash and Donald Tusk, the European Council President, said Mr Johnson had “crossed the boundaries”.

But when asked on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether it was “abominable” to make the comparison between the Nazi dictator and the European Union, Mr Johnson responded: “I don’t write the headlines.”

...the Turkish president

Amid an international free speech row between Turkey and Germany, Mr Johnson agreed to take part in a poetry competition organised by his former magazine The Spectator.

His limerick reads:

“There was a young fellow from Ankara, Who was a terrific w*nkerer.

“Till he sowed his wild oats, With the help of a goat, But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”

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