Europe stunned as Britain's 'King of the Blunder' becomes FM

BERLIN, GERMANY, Frank Zeller- Europe's media reacted with incredulity, sarcasm and sometimes dismay Thursday to the news that top Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson is Britain's new foreign secretary.
In a shock move, new Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday appointed the eccentric former London mayor, known for his political antics and gaffe-prone style, as the top diplomat to lead the country out of the EU.

Germany's Die Welt said many initially thought the "bombshell" appointment was a joke, recalling that Johnson has compared the EU to Adolf Hitler and likened Hillary Clinton to "a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital".
"The fact that Theresa May is... appointing, of all people, this undiplomatic, unpredictable and disloyal hotshot as foreign minister seems absurd at first glance," it said.
But it also saw the move as calculated, arguing that "the pressure now rests upon him -- and his undoubted ambition -- to prove himself".
- 'Poisoned chalice' -
France's Liberation reminded its readers that Johnson "has never held a ministerial post and a few days ago he pathetically withdrew from the race to lead the Tory Party".
"What looks like a promotion could in fact be a poisoned chalice," the left-leaning paper said, adding that "the real negotiations on the Brexit will be managed by a specially created ministry and by the prime minister’s cabinet".
The day after the Brexit vote on June 23, Liberation's entire front-page featured the now-infamous photograph of Johnson dangling from a zipwire during the London Olympics, with the headline "Good Luck".
L'Obs news magazine's headline was simply "King of the Blunder".
- 'Britain's greatest bogeyman' -
Germany news magazine Der Spiegel, in an online commentary headlined "House of Cards in Britain", was withering.
"Those who thought the shamelessness with which Britain's political class play their power games could not be surpassed were disabused of that notion yesterday," it said.
"Boris Johnson, King of Brexit, has now been rewarded with the post of foreign secretary, having initially stuck his head in the sand after the vote.
"Now, finally, there can be no more doubt that British politics is not concerned with the country's welfare, but with haggling for positions, personal ambitions and power plays."
In its main article from London, Der Spiegel said Johnson "himself seemed surprised", having been widely regarded as "Britain's greatest bogeyman" after the vote.
But it also said May had appointed him "to heal the party and to show the voters... that she takes the referendum outcome seriously".
- 'Bad signal' -
Several leftist politicians were also quick to voice their misgivings.
Picking Johnson makes May "look weaker", argued one of the deputy leaders of the centre-left Social Democrats, Ralf Stegner.
He said Johnson was not known so far for his diplomatic skills, adding: "Now he'll negotiate the Brexit. Bon Voyage!"
The opposition Greens party also saw the appointment as "a bad signal", reported national news agency DPA, with its parliamentary chief Anton Hofreiter charging that it "raises doubts about the judgement of the new prime minister".
Greens party co-leader Simone Peter predicted that Johnson will now bring "his capricious mischief" to Europe and beyond.

Thursday, July 14th 2016
Frank Zeller

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