World reacts to Boris Johnson as foreign secretary

‘Justice: Johnson now has to lie in the bed he made,’ says editor of German tabloid Bild

Britain's newly appointed Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says he is humbled and proud to be offered the job. Video: Reuters


The world of politics, diplomacy and celebrity has reacted with a mixture of amusement and horror to the news that Boris Johnson has been appointed Britain’s new foreign secretary.

Johnson himself said he was “excited” to take up the new role on Wednesday, which will involve travelling the globe and meeting foreign leaders as the UK’s most senior diplomat.

However, his track record when it comes to interacting with other cultures is patchy to say the least, and politicians around the world have been slightly less than excited by the prospect of working with a man who once wrote a poem about the Turkish president having sex with a goat.

In America, the reaction was one of carefully restrained laughter.

When state department spokesman Mark Toner heard the news, he struggled to keep a straight face - a broad smile breaking out more than once - before saying the US “looked forward” to working with Johnson.

Toner was not alone in his bemusement. American political scientist Ian Bremmer hoped it might all be an elaborate joke.

In Germany, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, declined to comment on May’s surprise decision to appoint Johnson when asked by reporters.

“I believe it is our task to work closely with governments in allied countries. The world has enough problems for us to progress in our foreign policy cooperation with Great Britain as we have always done,” she said.

The hashtag #Außenminister (foreign minister) however captured the national mood.

Ralf Stegner, deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party, the junior partner in Merkel’s coalition, said “Mrs May looks weaker after such a choice of personnel”.

Johnson had not come across as an exemplary diplomat in the past, Stegner said. “Now he is negotiating Brexit. Enjoy the trip!”

Simone Peter, co-leader of the Green Party, likened Johnson’s appointment to “trusting the cat to keep the cream”.

Green Party parliamentary co-leader Anton Hofreiter said appointing Johnson was “a very bad sign for the leaving process and raises doubts over the competency of the new prime minister”.

The Brussels correspondent of German public broadcaster ZDF, Anne Gellink, said that Johnson was “properly, properly hated” and seen as “the head of a campaign of lies” in the EU’s headquarters.

ZDF’s Berlin correspondent, Nicole Diekmann, tweeted: “So, Boris Johnson, foreign minister. British humour”.

Nikolaus Blome, the deputy editor of Germany’s biggest tabloid Bild, tweeted: “There’s justice after all. As foreign minister, Boris Johnson now has to lie in the bed he made himself”

Sweden’s former prime minister was among those despairing over the decision.

And Cher was, well, not happy.

New Zealand crime writer Val McDermid was similarly unimpressed.

Some, however, believe Johnson is the right man for the job.

Among his fans is the former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott -

who once threatened to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin.