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French politicians and public bemused by 'liar' Boris Johnson

The Local France
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French politicians and public bemused by 'liar' Boris Johnson
Will Johnson get a thumbs-up from France? We'll see... Photo: Scott Heppell/AFP

Boris Johnson was named as the UK's new Foreign Secretary on Wednesday, but the appointment hasn't gone down well across the Channel, with his French counterpart calling him a "liar".

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Johnson himself has close ties to France; his grandmother was half-French, he speaks the language well and once called London "the fourth biggest French city in the world".

But he may have an uphill battle to gain popularity in France, if the reaction to his new role as Foreign Secretary is anything to go by.

"Did you see his tactics during the [Brexit] campaign? He lied a lot to the British," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview on radio station Europe 1. "Now it's he who's up against it to defend his country."

Ayrault added: "I need a partner who is clear and reliable."

At the time of writing, neither Francois Hollande nor Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo - who has met Johnson several times in his capacity as mayor of London - had commented on the appointment, but the French press have already begun to analyse how the news may affect the upcoming Brexit negotiations, as well as general relations between Britain and France.

Le Figaro suggested that Jonson's role as Foreign Secretary might "lessen his influence on the negotiations with the EU", and described him as a "pure product of the British conservative aristocracy, developed and trained to govern", saying that he appears to be "guided by opportunism".

France Inter referred to the former journalist as "the giant with the mop of hair", adding that he was "known for his blunders" and has always "preferred to sacrifice diplomacy for the sake of a good turn of phrase", noting his comparison between the EU and the Nazi party during the referendum campaign.

As for the reaction on French social media, it was mixed, with most users expressing bemusement at the news.

 

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