More often reported for his undiplomatic gaffes than his politics, Boris Johnson has been appointed as the UK’s new foreign secretary. The world’s media, politicians and social networks have responded accordingly.
Since being appointed mayor of London in 2008, the former journalist has quickly made a name for himself as a controversial figure on the UK’s political stage, more often than not to mocking from the press as well as fellow politicians both home and abroad.
In April, Johnson came under massive criticism when he recounted the story of a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill being removed from the White House to be sent to the British Embassy.
In his column for British tabloid “The Sun,” Johnson said the decision was “a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire.”
US Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton was also the target of Johnson’s column for “The Telegraph” in 2007 in which he ridiculed the US Secretary of State’s appearance.
“She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” Johnson wrote.
More recently in May, Johnson won a £1,000-prize for penning a rude poem about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he referred to the Turkish prime minister as a “wankerer.” The competition was launched after Erdogan filed a lawsuit against German comedian Jan Böhmermann, who broadcast a similar poem which accused the Turkish leader of watching child porn and having sex with a goat.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had harsh words for Johnson, however, branding the former London mayor as “irresponsible.”
“People [in the UK] are experiencing a rude awakening after irresponsible politicians first lured the country into a Brexit and then, once the decision was made, bolted and didn’t take responsibility,” Steinmeier said during a speech at Greifswald University.
“Instead they went to play cricket. To be honest, I find this outrageous but it’s not just bitter for Great Britain. It’s also bitter for the European Union,” he added.
Nicole Diekmann, a correspondent for German broadcaster ZDF, tweeted: “Boris Johnson is foreign secretary. British humor.”
“This is a relationship that goes beyond personalities, and it is an absolutely critical moment in England’s history but also in the US-UK relationship,” he said.
Online, however, the Chinese were more interested in Johnson’s ample head of hair. One user of Weibo – China’s equivalent to Twitter wrote: “Just from looking at Boris Johnson, you can tell that British hairdressing isn’t doing so well.”
Back in the UK, politicians and members of the public were equally shocked. Labour Party MP and candidate in the upcoming Labour leadership contest Angela Eagle was left speechless as she heard the news live on camera: