Boris Johnson booed in first speech as foreign secretary at French embassy on Bastille Day

European leaders have responded with dismay and fury at the appointment of Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London, to Foreign Secretary.

His French counterpart denounced him as a "liar", while his German interlocutor said it was "outrageous" that he played cricket on the day after the Brexit referendum.

And Mr Johnson received some boos as he delivered his first public speech as Foreign Secretary at the French Embassy in London. Numerous reports from the event suggested Mr Johnson got both applause and jeers after the speech.


Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, said he was concerned that he would be able to negotiate with Mr Johnson.

"I am not at all worried about Boris Johnson, but during the campaign he lied a lot to the British people and now it is he who has his back against the wall," he said.

"(He has) his back against the wall to defend his country but also with his back against the wall the relationship with Europe should be clear," Mr Ayrault said.

I need a partner with whom I can negotiate and who is clear, credible and reliable. We cannot let this ambiguous, blurred situation drag on in the interests of the British themselves.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Foreign Minister

"I need a partner with whom I can negotiate and who is clear, credible and reliable," he added. "We cannot let this ambiguous, blurred situation drag on in the interests of the British themselves."

The German foreign minister expressed pity for British voters.

"People [in the UK] are experiencing a rude awakening after irresponsible politicians first lured the country into a Brexit to then, once the decision was made, bolt and not take responsibility," Frank-Walter 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."

Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister of Sweden, tweeted a now-notorious picture of Mr Johnson dangling on the Olympic zip wire.

Mr Johnson caused grave offence in Brussels and Washington during the referendum campaign, when he said that the EU was an attempt by other means to unify Europe in a manner attempted by Adolf Hitler.

He also described President Obama as "the part-Kenyan President" who harboured "ancestral dislike of the British empire".

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, spoke to Mr Johnson by phone today and urged Britain to be "sensible".

"The Secretary stressed US support for a sensible and measured approach to the Brexit process and offered to stay engaged as the UK government develops its plans," a spokesman said.

Mr Johnson will come face to face with Mr Kerry and his European counterparts at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday.

- NZ Herald

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