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Despite often claiming that there was more chance he would be reincarnated as an olive, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is Prime Minister, a situation which has left a lot of people wishing for that Frisbee he said was more likely to decapitate him.
Whether or not you’re one of those people may rely heavily on whether you are in one of the myriad groups of people he has offended.
Here is a list of the ten worst things Boris Johnson has ever said. You’d be lucky to get through it without being insulted.
1: “Piccaninnies” with “Watermelon smiles”
In an article he should have (but almost certainly hasn’t) come to regret, Boris famously called the people of the Congo “flag-waving piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.
This is racist. Just look at this picture of a little “picaninny” with a “watermelon smile”.
“Pickaninny is a North American historical racial slur.” That’s from the top line of the Wikipedia page, as is that picture.
Would the man who in the same article wrote of “Zeus, back there in the Iliad, far over the lands of the Hippemolgoi” (without having to check a book) not know about the history of the word piccaninny? Does Boris, educated in the most expensive institutions in the country, truly have this large a hole in his knowledge?
Hopefully he does, otherwise the Prime Minister’s a bigot.
2: “go around looking like letterboxes” and “Bank Robbers”
Women can wear whatever they would like to, without being judged. This may sound like something a child might learn in primary school, but it doesn’t seem to be something Boris has quite managed to grasp yet.
Our Prime Minister famously called the burka (which covers the entire body and face) and niqab (pictured below) “foolish” garments. He said if someone were to go around “looking like a bank robber” he would not speak to them unless they removed it.
Boris goes on to say that to communicate with one another “human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work”, wilfully forgetting he is writing an article.
And the famous “letterbox” jibe. It gave ammunition to those who would use it maliciously. In fact there was a direct link between Boris printing his piece and a spike anti-Muslim hate crimes. And that’s not even the worst of it.
3: The “Fickleness” of “Hot Totty” after “Power” is why women vote Labour
In what must be one of the single most sexist and derogatory articles of recent memory, Boris Johnson said just about everything a stereotypical chauvinistic, backwards old tory might say.
Johnson, having been undercover at a Labour party conference, saw fit to report on the number of women there. He wrote:
- “the ‘Tottymeter’ reading is higher than at any Labour Party conference in living memory”
- “Time and again the ‘Tottymeter’ has gone off as a young woman delegate mounts the rostrum”
- “planned erosion of male liberty — such as ending the right to drink in public places”
- “women will be more promiscuous if Mr Blair comes to power”
- “The real reason why Blackpool is buzzing with glamorous women is surely that they scent victory… It is the whiff of power. With the fickleness of their sex, they are following the polls.”
The sexism is so blatant I need not even point out how he is reducing women to sheep, with no unique thought and no function other than to look pretty and follow.
Now he is the country’s leader. What do we really think he expects from the female 51% of the population?
4: “Get Off my f***ing laptop!”
An angry warning to leave someone’s computer alone may not rank in the worst things anyone has ever said, but given context it can come close.
In June 2019, just weeks before Boris Johnson was to become British Prime Minister, police were called to his flat after neighbours heard “screaming, shouting and banging”. Specifically a woman screaming “Get off me” and “Get out”.
The gravity of the situation should be clear. There were over 1.2 million reported female victims of domestic abuse in the UK in 2017. The man in charge of the country should not be one of the perpetrators.
And no, Carrie Symonds, the alleged victim 24 years younger than Boris Johnson, didn’t press charges or corroborate the neighbours’ recordings, but then the Conservative party’s public representation was literally her job.
5: “Tank-topped bum-boys”
For a populist Prime Minister, Boris seems to be trying to alienate a lot of people. With women well and truly checked off the list, he turned to men.
The famous comment about “tank-topped bumboys” in the Ministry of Sound only surfaced again (he originally wrote it in a column about Peter Mandelson in 1998) because Boris came out in support of his friend with a “caustic wit”, Toby Young.
Toby Young’s lauded wit ultimately consists of calling people “hard-core dykes”, “queer as a coot” or “penis breath”. With that as a yard stick it seems that Boris would be stunned at the comic abilities of teenage boys across the country.
6: “…or indeed three men and a dog”
Not content with calling the homosexual community ‘bumboys’, Boris doubled down. In a book he published in 2001 he wrote:
“If gay marriage was OK… I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog.”
The quote speaks for itself really. The honourable PM makes the right-wing half-joke as old as time, but he does it as a reference to a nineteenth century book he’s probably read and you probably haven’t.
Nowadays BoJo is more likely to be seen leading a pride parade. He must have changed his mind about gay marriage being like marrying a dog. He surely wouldn’t do things like that purely for political gain?
7: “They’ve got to find men to marry.”
At the Islamic Economic Forum you might expect the world leaders to conduct themselves with dignity. A religion that has been notoriously used to repress women’s rights surely would surely be moving to correct those injustices.
But Boris Johnson was there.
After Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:
“My officials have told me that the latest university intake in Malaysia, a Muslim country, 68 per cent will be women entering our universities.”
To which Boris jibed: “They’ve got to find men to marry.”
The uproar worldwide was fierce, especially (unsurprisingly) from women and feminist groups.
Boris’s big worded defence, that he “was merely pointing out that with a graduate cohort 68 per cent female you intensify the phenomenon sociologists identify as assortative mating”, bamboozled no-one.
8: “Hooray” and “Bravo” to Bashar al-Assad
To those of you who don’t know who Bashar al-Assad is, here’s a picture:
In fact in 2015 alone Assad was responsible for the deaths of 10x more civilians than IS.
These facts may not be as in the mainstream as IS’s atrocities, but a high-ranking international diplomat would surely be aware of them. The man appointed Foreign Secretary of the UK just a few months later would, surely.
Surely that man wouldn’t be daft enough to praise a murderer and tyrant in such terms as “Bravo” and “Hooray”?
9: “Lady nugee”
Emily Thornberry is a Labour MP who has been active in politics since she was a teenager. She has struggled up the ladder of life from living on a council estate to representing her constituency in the Houses of Parliament. She’s also the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
She also happens to be married to a High Court Judge.
Boris calling her “Lady Nugee” was a thoroughly British insult, reducing the woman Emily Thornberry to a distinguished husband’s wife.
John Bercow, the Speaker said:
“We don’t name call in this chamber.
“We do not address people by the titles of their spouses.
“The Shadow Foreign Secretary has her name – and it’s not lady something.
“It is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms and I’m not having it in this chamber. No matter how senior a member, that parlance is not legitimate and it will not be allowed.”
Which as tellings off in the Houses of Parliament go is about as hard as it gets. Boris was forced to apologise for any “inadvertent sexism”.
How many times can a person be accidentally offensive?
10: “Africa is a mess”
Whether or not Africa is a bit of a mess is up for debate. But that was just the headline for what has to be one of the most vitriolic things said by a Western leader in the 21st century.
The article is stuffed so full it has to be read in its entirety. Here are some select parts:
“The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.
“Are we guilty of slavery? Pshaw.”
By the way, pshaw means ‘as if you’d even suggest that ridiculous notion‘.
“If left to their own devices, the natives would rely on nothing but the instant carbohydrate gratification of the plantain.
“The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction.”
…and if you still think there’s room in your heart for bashful old Boris, why not see if watching this excellent piece from John Oliver will change your mind?