‘An incompetent jester’: France delivers its verdict on Britain’s new PM Boris Johnson

He's never been a great fan of the French so perhaps it's no surprise that the verdict in France on Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a less than flattering one.

'An incompetent jester': France delivers its verdict on Britain's new PM Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson: Photo: AFP

Press and politicians in France reacted on Tuesday as Johnson was confirmed as the winner of the Tory leadership contest, and therefore Britain's next Prime Minister.

In a result announced in London on Tuesday afternoon, Johnson was confirmed the winner with 92,153 votes, beating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who took 46,656 votes.

Current Prime Minister Theresa May had already announced that she will step down on Wednesday, ushering in the reign of controversial former journalist Johnson.

Only members of the British Conservative party were eligible to vote in the leadership contest – a total of 159,320 people.

Johnson himself has never been shy of a bit of French bashing – who could forget his infamous 'turds' comment when he was Foreign Secretary?

And the French have not held back on their opinions of him. On Tuesday the media and politicians gave their views on the new leader of Britain and some of them were far from flattering.


How Johnson is seen across La Manche. Photo Libération

Leftwing daily newspaper Libération describes him as “a liar, self-centred, obsessed with money but appreciated for his eccentricity and self-derision, the former mayor of London, who became a Eurosceptic to stand out from the crowd” in an article headlined 'Boris Johnson, future Queen's jester'.

Radio station France Info is equally unsparing, while conceding that Johnson is “certainly very clever” they describe him as someone who has “a history of incompetence and is known as a buffoon”.

LCI TV channel were more concerned by the potential alliance between Johnson and US President Donald Trump which they described as “unwanted”.

“Should we be scared of Boris Johnson?” LCI asked.

LCI pointed out that Trump and Johnson had much in common, including the fact they were both born in New York, both have bad hair cuts and both have launched stinging attacks on Hilary Clinton in the past.

The channel said the similarities don't stop there. They have both been accused of racism recently and of pushing fake news and lies in the media.


Le Parisien headlines its article 'Boris Johnson, anti European . . . and half Alsatian'

And newspaper Le Parisien points out that although Johnson is now running on an anti EU ticket, he himself is French, or at least partially.

His grandmother was half French, born in Versailles and with roots in the Alsace region of France – hence his middle name of de Pfeffel.

Meanwhile Le Monde – the heavyweight French daily paper known as the newspaper of record – has republished an editorial simply saying “Boris Johnson leading the UK? No thanks!” `

In the political world, words were more measured, with French president Emmanuel Macron congratulating Johnson on his win.


“I congratulate Boris Johnson and I will call him when he is officially prime minister,” Macron said.

“I want very much to work with him as quickly as possible and not just on European subjects and the continuation of negotiations linked to Brexit, but also on international issues on which we coordinate closely with Britain and Germany… like the situation in Iran,” he added.

The incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who was in France having a working lunch with Macron at the Elysées Palace, congratulated Johnson, but warned they had “challenging times ahead.”

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson for being nominated as prime minister. I am looking forward to having a good working relationship with him. 

“There are many different and difficult issues to tackle together. We have challenging times ahead of us.” 




Member comments

  1. It does not really matter what the French think of Boris – He has the ability to get Brexit sorted while still working with the EU…

    Listen to his language at the acceptance speech. He wants inclusivity, fairness and butt kicking to get the UK going in partnership with the EU.. Comments about fibre, trade deals with other countries and hard work will reverberate throughout the country.

    I’ll bet Macron would love to energise the French in a similar way, but they are all on holiday……

  2. “We are going to get Brexit done on October 31.

    We are going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can-do.

    And we are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve.

    And like some slumbering giant, we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity, with better education, better infrastructure, more police, fantastic full-fibre broadband sprouting in every household – we are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward.” Boris

  3. I can never understand why people are so happy to support and elect someone who has blatantly lied to them and shown no remorse. But since now Trump is Liar in Chief, elected by the lied to, why should I be surprised that one of our own biggest liars has been elected. Just look at his promises above. Anyone believe them and not already in an institution, must be waiting for admission to one.

  4. I’ve put up with Thatcher Blair Brown but never been so ashamed to have English blood in me. Thank god the other half is Scottish.

  5. Totally agree Brian. Thank heavens my half is French. Johnson is just a court jester that plays to the gallery more then Farage does. At least Farage doesn’t change his coat mid-stream but both are an embarrassment to the UK.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.