How the world reacted to Boris Johnson’s resignation

He ‘really does not like us – and we [do not like] him either’, said Vladimir Putin’s spokesman

Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy called Johnson a ‘hero’ and a ‘true friend’
(Image credit: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

World leaders and prominent politicians have reacted to the news that Boris Johnson is to step down after less than three years in No. 10, making him one of Britain’s shortest-serving prime ministers of modern times.

Praise was heaped on the outgoing PM by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who described Johnson as a “hero” and a “true friend”.

In his resignation speech on Thursday, Johnson described the UK’s support for Ukraine as one of his key achievements as PM. “I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes,” he declared.

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In a phone call that took place after the initial announcement of his departure, Zelenskyy told Johnson that the news had been received with “sadness” in Ukraine. “My entire office and all Ukrainians are grateful to you for your help,” he added. “We have no doubt that Great Britain’s support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma made it special.”

‘We do not like him’

Johnson received less warm wishes from Russia, with Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling for a “more professional” replacement to engage in dialogue with. Johnson “really does not like us – and we [do not like] him either”, he said, according to the BBC.

And Russia’s ambassador to Britain, Andrei Kelin, told Reuters that Johnson had made a “strategic mistake” by concentrating too much on Ukraine and not on domestic issues. By focusing on the war, the PM “left behind very much the country, people [and] state of the economy”, he claimed.

‘Things can only get better’

Johnson’s departure received a mixed reaction in western Europe, where he is a divisive figure, in part due to his backing and implementation of Brexit.

Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian politician and the EU’s former Brexit coordinator, did not mince his words, writing on Twitter: “Boris Johnson’s reign ends in disgrace, just like his friend Donald Trump. The end of an era of transatlantic populism? Let’s hope so.”

EU-UK relations had “suffered hugely with Johnson’s choice of Brexit”, continued Verhofstadt, who added: “Things can only get better!”

France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire took a similar view, telling the France Info radio station that “personally, I won’t miss him”. Johnson’s resignation “proves, in any case, that Brexit mixed up with populism does not make for a good cocktail for a nation”, The Independent reported.

On Twitter, Michel Barnier, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, said the PM’s departure “opens a new page” in relations with the UK.

“May it be more constructive, more respectful of commitments made, in particular regarding peace and stability in Northern Ireland, and more friendly with partners [in the EU],” he said.

‘My best wishes to him’

Ireland’s prime minister Micheál Martin was slightly more sympathetic, recognising that Johnson had “been through a difficult few weeks” and offering “my best wishes to him and his family for the future”.

But with questions remaining over the Northern Ireland Protocol, Martin also acknowledged that the relationship between the two countries had “been strained and challenged in recent times”.

Biden ‘ready to move on’

While Martin looked to “return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect” for Anglo-Irish relations, US president Joe Biden addressed the consistently “strong” relationship between Britain and the United States in an 88-word statement.

“I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the government of the United Kingdom, as well as our Allies and partners around the world, on a range of important priorities,” the document said.

The statement focused on the “special relationship” between the US and UK, which Biden said remains “strong and enduring”, but did not mention Johnson by name. If this “no-namecheck statement on the matter is any indication, President Joe Biden is ready to move on”, said Politico.

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