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High-profile gaffes which have landed Boris in hot water

The Foreign Secretary has been criticised after saying Sirte could become the next Dubai once it had cleared away the dead bodies.

Boris Johnson’s comments directed towards a Libyan city have become the latest in a line of high-profile gaffes which have landed him in hot water.

The Foreign Secretary said Sirte, the coastal city where former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed during the 2011 civil war, could become the next Dubai once it had cleared away the dead bodies.

His colourful language has since attracted criticism and calls for his resignation, but what other social faux pas has Mr Johnson found himself caught up in?

France

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Francois Hollande (Niall Carson/PA)

In January he was condemned by the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator after comparing then French president Francois Hollande to a Second World War guard administering “punishment beatings”.

His remark was made during a visit to India, when he was asked about a reported comment from one of Mr Hollande’s aides, who said Britain should not expect a better trading relationship with Europe from outside the EU.

The Foreign Secretary responded: “If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anyone who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War Two movie, then I don’t think that’s the way forward.

“It’s not in the interests of our friends or our partners.”

Turkey

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Niall Carson/PA)

In May 2016 Mr Johnson won a £1,000 competition run by the Spectator magazine to write the most offensive poem possible about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He composed a satirical limerick describing the key regional power broker having sex with a goat and calling him a “wankerer”, to rhyme with the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Barack Obama

In April last year he was criticised for describing the then-US president Barack Obama as a “part-Kenyan” who harboured an “ancestral dislike” of Britain.

He made the comments in a newspaper article after the US’s first black president came out in favour of the Remain campaign during a visit to Britain.

Palestine

In November 2015 local officials axed a visit to Palestine on safety grounds after the then-London mayor told an audience in Tel Aviv that a trade boycott of Israeli goods was “completely crazy” and supported by “corduroy jacketed, snaggletoothed, lefty academics in the UK”.

Palestinian officials accused him of adopting a “misinformed and disrespectful” pro-Israel stance and said he risked creating protests if he visited the West Bank, although Mr Johnson claimed his comments were “very much whipped up” on social media.

Japan

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Boris Johnson joins a Street Rugby tournament in a Tokyo street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In October 2015 he made a more light-hearted gaffe when he was filmed wiping out a 10-year-old Japanese schoolboy during a game of street rugby on a visit to Tokyo.

The images, which were shown widely, saw burly Boris take out Toki Sekiguchi as the politician raced down the mini turf pitch.

Toki Sekiguchi said afterwards: “I felt a little bit of pain but it’s OK.”

Commonwealth countries and the Congo

In 2008 Mr Johnson apologised for a Daily Telegraph column written six years previously, while MP for Henley, in which he described the Queen being greeted in Commonwealth countries by “flag-waving piccaninnies” – a derogatory term for black children.

The same column mentioned then prime minister Tony Blair being greeted by “tribal warriors who will all break out in watermelon smiles” on a forthcoming visit to the Congo.

China

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Boris Johnson during the Closing Ceremony at the National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (John Giles/PA)

In August 2008 he offended his hosts while visiting the Beijing Olympics, when he said it was a misconception that table tennis had been invented by the Chinese, and it had in fact developed from a Victorian English game called “whiff-whaff”.

During a party to celebrate the handover from Beijing to London, he said the game was invented on the dining tables of 19th century England, and told the Chinese that “ping pong is coming home”.

Hillary Clinton

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Hillary Clinton (Danny Lawson/PA)

In a November 2007 column in the Daily Telegraph he described Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate to replace Mr Obama, as having “a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.

The piece, which described Mrs Clinton as the best candidate to replace George W. Bush in the 2008 presidential election, also described Mr Obama as “plainly brilliant”.

Papua New Guinea

In 2006 Mr Johnson was forced to apologise for upsetting the island state after linking it with “cannibalism and chief-killing” in remarks made in another Daily Telegraph column.

He wrote: “For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing, and so it is with a happy amazement that we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour Party.”

Liverpool

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Boris used to be editor of The Spectator (PA)

In October 2004 Mr Johnson was famously ordered to Liverpool by former Tory leader Michael Howard to apologise to the people of the city after publishing, as editor of The Spectator, an editorial accusing its citizens of wallowing in pity after engineer Ken Bigley’s killing in Iraq.

Portsmouth

In 2007 he caused fury after he described Portsmouth in a GQ magazine article as “too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”.

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