Diplomatic is not a word often associated with Boris Johnson, new British Prime Minister Theresa May’s surprise choice for foreign minister.

The former London mayor has a history of using his rapier wit - often in his regular newspaper columns - to mock other leaders and peoples, making for some awkward moments in the months to come.

Not all of his tackles have been rhetorical. During a trade visit to Japan in October 2015 he accidentally took out a 10-year-old boy during a game of street rugby. The bumbling mop-haired politician known internationally as simply “Boris” also has a knack for being photographed in unflattering poses. One of the most iconic images shows him dangling in mid-air, a British flag in either hand, after getting stuck on a zip wire during the 2012 London Olympics.

Hitler-inspired EU

In May, Johnson accused the EU of trying to create a superstate, continuing what he called a thousand-year-old tradition of trying bring the continent together under a single government. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph in remarks that caused outrage in Brussels.

‘Sadistic nurse’ Hillary Clinton

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in November 2007, when Clinton was running against Barack Obama for the US Democratic presidential nomination, Johnson described her as follows:

“She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”

Before meeting Clinton last year he sought to paper over the comment, saying he was sure the “very distinguished” White House hopeful would take it “in the light-hearted spirit in which it was intended”.

‘Part-Kenyan’ Obama

In April, Johnson created a storm by suggesting that Obama had removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office because of anti-British feelings linked to his African heritage.

“On day one of Obama’s administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington,” Johnson wrote in the Sun newspaper.

The ensuing row dominated the first day of Obama’s visit to London where he pushed for Britain to remain in Europe. “Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire, of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender,” he added.

‘Wankerer’ Erdogan

In May, Johnson won a prize for most rude poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the Spectator magazine which organised a contest in support of a German comedian facing charges for mocking the Turkish leader.

Johnson, whose great-grandfather was Turkish, came up with the following rhyme. “There was a young fellow from Ankara/Who was a terrific wankerer/Till he sowed his wild oats/With the help of a goat/But he didn’t even stop to thankera.”

Brexit ‘does not

mean leaving Europe’

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Thursday that quitting the EU did not mean “leaving Europe”, as he brushed off criticism of his appointment in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new Brexit government. “On Europe clearly we have to give effect to the will of the people in the referendum, but that does not mean in any sense leaving Europe,” said Johnson, who led the victorious campaign to leave the bloc last month.

May became prime minister late Wednesday after David Cameron stepped down in the wake of the June 23 vote, which sent shockwaves around the world and sparked fears of an economic downturn as Britain potentially closes off its biggest market.

After six years as Cameron’s interior minister, she was viewed as a safe pair of hands to replace him, but began with a ruthless cull of some of her former cabinet colleagues.

She removed long-serving finance minister George Osborne and Brexit campaigner and justice secretary Michael Gove - and stunned onlookers by giving Johnson the diplomatic brief.

The former London mayor is popular in Britain and well-known abroad - not least for a colourful use of language regularly directed at foreigners, including White House hopeful Hillary Clinton and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

‘Plaster coming off ceilings’

Speaking to reporters outside the Foreign Office, Johnson shrugged off the idea that his appointment was controversial.

“After a vote like the referendum result on June 23, it’s inevitable that there is going to be a certain amount of plaster coming off the ceilings in the chancelleries of Europe,” Johnson said.

He also dismissed comments by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that he had “lied a lot” during the Brexit campaign, saying he had just received a “charming letter” from his French counterpart.

Controversy over Johnson’s appointment overshadowed the first day of May’s premiership, which brings some stability after three tumultuous weeks following the EU vote.

European leaders have pressed her to move quickly in implementing Brexit, amid fears of the damage the continued uncertainty could do to the EU and the world economy.

New finance minister Philip Hammond warned Brexit was having “chilling effects” on the financial markets and said business investment decisions were being put on hold.

The Bank of England on Thursday held off on an anticipated cut in interest rates, keeping them unchanged at 0.50 percent, but signalled a possible cut next month.

The British pound briefly jumped above $1.34, while London’s FTSE 100 index slid after the bank announcement. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rallied to its highest point since the Brexit vote.