Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Boris Johnson not sorry about insults

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to apologise yesterday for the withering one-liners he has made about world leaders in the past. He however won the support of Britain's closest ally as the country navigates its difficult path out of the European Union.

Johnson, who was hosting US Secretary of State John Kerry in London, said people are "free to rake over" his past comments but that it would "take too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology" to all those who might have been offended in the past by his "rich thesaurus" of comments, many made in his regular newspaper columns.

Johnson, who was appointed to his new job last week, said he is now focusing on dealing with issues like the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria and the troubles in Yemen.

"Those to my mind are far more important than any obiter dicta that you may disinter (from) 30 years of journalism," Johnson said, referring to a term used in law to denote an incidental remark.

The 52-year-old Johnson once described Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital." He has also said President Barack Obama's "part-Kenyan" heritage may have given him an "ancestral dislike" of Britain, Kenya's former colonial ruler. He also recently wrote an extremely vulgar limerick about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of a Muslim country.

Kerry for his part, rallied to Johnson's defense, twice remarking on the Latin-spouting British politician's intellect with fulsome praise. The US envoy also underscored his and his nation's commitment to the "special relationship" between Britain and the US.

Asked about Obama's remark before Britain's referendum that Britain would be at "the back of the queue" for a trade deal with the US if it left the EU, Kerry said Brexit raised "complicated questions."

"The British have told us they cannot sign any new kind of new trade agreement - and it stands to common sense that you can't do that - until they are no longer member of the EU," he said.

- AP