Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s off-the-cuff comments have once again got him into hot water. After he accused the EU of using tactics associated with the Nazis.
On Wednesday 18 January, Johnson was speaking in India about Theresa May’s Brexit speech from the previous day. He was commenting on how the European leaders may react to the UK leaving the EU. And in relation to French President François Hollande, Johnson said:
If Mr Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who seeks to escape [the EU], in the manner of some world war two movie, I don’t think that is the way forward, and it’s not in the interests of our friends and partners.
The comments appeared to liken Hollande and the EU to the Nazi Gestapo, its secret police. The organisation was infamous during WWII for intimidation and using violence against those who did not agree with Hitler. As Business Insider commented:
The comments brought to mind images of famous war films, such as The Great Escape [and] The Colditz Story… in which British soldiers are abused by Germans.
Yes. He really did say that.
Hollande has not responded to Johnson’s comments. But social media was immediately on the case:
David Davis and Boris Johnson both invoking WW2 in Brexit posturing. We're living in a really shit episode of Allo Allo.
— Iain Aitch (@iainaitch) January 18, 2017
Boris Johnson. UK Foreign Secretary, I hope you're proud of him, Britain. pic.twitter.com/DhjpWyfCmJ
— Angry Scotland Podcast 🎙 (@AngryScotland) January 18, 2017
— John Kane (@JohnKaneSGP) January 18, 2017
Oh no. Not again…
This is not the first time Johnson’s comments have caused controversy. In April 2016, he said that Barack Obama’s part-Kenyan heritage may have been the reason a bust of Winston Churchill was removed from the White House:
Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire.
Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.
A UK Foreign Secretary should be diplomatic, empathetic and a masterful communicator. So maybe the PM was having a bit of a joke when she appointed Johnson to the role last year. But if she was, the punchline is turning out not to be very funny at all.
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