When I heard the new Prime Minister Theresa May speak on television yesterday, I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe the UK was in a safe pair of hands after the Brexit vote.
A few hours hadn’t even passed before I’d completely changed my mind. Genuinely, I cannot believe that our new PM has appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Britain’s chief diplomat. Johnson, a man perhaps best known for his racist and xenophobic “gaffes”, will now be representing UK interests abroad to some of the most powerful foreign dignitaries in the world – including US President Barack Obama, who he recently suggested had an “ancestral dislike” of Britain which guided his opposition to Brexit, being “part Kenyan” and all.
Boris Johnson is now someone who will have to deal directly with the Commonwealth, an area where predominantly non-white people live. And alongside Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis, he will presumably have negotiations with the rest of those European bureaucrats he so despises to attend.
Put simply, Theresa May has totally undermined Britain's international presence and status, and made us a global laughingstock. It’s an embarrassing decision of epic proportions. Boris Johnson has gone from being bad for our country to being bad for the world.
I write often about my differences as a modern day Briton, because I am proud of them. My diversity as a mixed-race gay man from Liverpool of black and Irish heritage is meant to be all that is good about a forward-looking UK. Yet Boris Johnson has been disparaging about all that I am, and he’s often rewarded for it.
He has had to apologise for referring to black people as "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles" in the past. He has also had to say sorry for commenting that black people have lower IQs, and suggested that same-sex marriage “could lead to three men and a dog getting married”. He referred to London’s St Patrick’s Day event as “lefty Sinn Fein crap”, was the editor of a magazine whose editorial stated that people from Liverpool want to “wallow” in their “victim status” because of their “deeply unattractive psyche”, and said of Hillary Clinton, the likely next President of the United States: “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
So I'm dismayed that the new PM, who in her first speech banged on about One Nation, social justice and the likes, appointed such a man to a prestigious international position. I’m beyond furious, and she’s lost any future vote of mine.
I watched last night as the US State Department spokesperson could hardly contain his laughter when he heard Johnson was our new Foreign Secretary. To some Britons this might all seem brilliant, and like we’ve taken our country back - but to where, the Middle Ages? Do we really want to be known as Little Britain around the world? Do we want these backward views to define us and do we want Boris Johnson to speak for us?
I’ve heard some people say it is a shrewd move by May, an attempt to keep her enemies closer than her friends. But our international image and future of our country isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a political game.
Johnson has been rewarded for Brexit, yes, and dividing a nation and its people. Now he’s set to divide us from every other country as well.
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