Could Britain’s new Foreign Minister be a global threat?

Published July 16th, 2016 - 08:23 GMT
Boris Johnson has a reputation for political embarrassments and racists gaffes (AFP / File)
Boris Johnson has a reputation for political embarrassments and racists gaffes (AFP / File)

To Brits, he’s best known as a political buffoon, a mop-haired member of the elite with a habit for racist gaffes and embarrassing stunts.

He described Barack Obama as “part-Kenyan” with an “ancestral dislike of the British empire”. He led the country to leave the EU then disappeared briefly from politics. His most famous recent photoshoot involved him hanging, trapped, from a zip wire harness clutching two sad-looking Union Jack flags.

And now the rest of the world are going to get a taste of Boris Johnson, because he’s just been made Foreign Minister of the UK.

The appointment is the latest development in Britain’s ongoing political chaos, which has seen the public vote out itself out of the EU, the Prime Minister resign and new leader Theresa May appoint a new cabinet. Boris was the headline recruit – the man now responsible for restoring Britain’s rather battered global standing after the Brexit he helped create.

But Boris is arguably an eyebrow raising choice for the role, particularly in the Middle East.

Erdogan recently felt the heat when Johnson won a competition to write a poem about the Turkish leader. The contest, inspired by the arrest of a German comedian who criticised Erdogan, was clinched apparently by the word “wankera” and the implication that the President enjoyed having sex with goats.

But that’s not the most worrying thing about Johnson’s foreign policy posturing. He’s written extensively in the past to argue that the UK should work with President Bashar al Assad in Syria, as part of the country’s aim to defeat ISIS. Assad has been conducting strikes against ISIS, but his regime also responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his own citizens – many more than the Islamic state  – making Boris’ murmurings of alliance troubling.

In another article for the Telegraph he praised the Assad regime in its retaking of Palmyra, too.

After only a few days into the job it’s difficult to guess what Johnson’s next move might be. But it’s likely Boris will bring some eventfulness to Britain’s foreign policy, for better or worse.

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