LONDON, July 20 (UPI) — Britain’s new foreign minister Boris Johnson was forced to defend numerous insults he has previous made of world leaders, in a tense first press conference as his nation’s top diplomat.
Standing alongside Secretary of State John Kerry, Johnson, the former mayor of London and the most high-profile campaigner for Britain’s exit from the EU, told reporters some of his remarks were “taken out of context.”
Kerry said Britain’s exit from the EU created “complicated questions” over trade and that it would be “physically impossible” for a separate trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. before it leaves the European Union, and that President Obama — one of the leaders Johnson has mocked in the past — has said any deal with Britain gets moved down in priority with an exit from the EU.
Among Johnson’s insults over the years, were two he made in a weekly column he wrote for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, saying President Obama’s “part-Kenyan” ancestry gave him an “ancestral dislike” of Britain.
Johnson stopped short of apologizing.
“We can spend an awfully long time going over lots of stuff that I’ve written over the last 30 years,” he said. “It would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology to all concerned.”
Johnson, appointed a week ago as foreign minister, was also booed by some audience members when he spoke at the French ambassador’s party on Bastille Day.