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Germany and France react to 'Brexit-Boris,' the UK's next prime minister

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Conservative MP and leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives at his campaign headquarters in central London on July 23, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N/AFP)

The announcement that Boris Johnson has beat his rival Jeremy Hunt to become Britain’s next prime minister has been met with no surprise by media commentators in Germany and France.

On news of Johnson’s victory, Europe’s best-selling tabloid Bild’s front page carried a story focusing on 10 little-known things about Johnson under the headline ‘Here comes Brexit-Boris!”

Boris Johnson wanted to become “world king” as a child. “Now at least he will get to rule a former empire,” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today.

The German press has been intrigued and bewildered by Johnson in the weeks leading up to the vote, the consensus being that he is a charming charlatan, who blusters, lies, and lacks a serious plan for how to lead Britain out of the European Union.

READ MORE: Investors brace for no-deal Brexit as Boris Johnson wins leadership

On Tuesday morning, Germany’s Tagesspiegel called him “A premier without a plan — but with big ambitions,” commenting that “the theatre Johnson offers his followers is also an expression of the increasing infantilisation in politics.”

Tagesspiegel said that the Tory party did not seem worried about how Brexit will play out under the next prime minister but more focused on “wine-crate handicraft instead of the backstop, cocaine accusations instead of the customs union and the domestic market.”

Der Spiegel front cover: "How Boris Johnson is getting his countrymen worked up against Europe"

Holger Bingmann, president of Germany’s Federal Association of Wholesalers, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) released a statement saying: "With the election of hardliner and Brexiteer Boris Johnson as successor to Theresa May, the danger of a no-deal-Brexit grows and many European companies have already taken appropriate precautions."

The deputy chairwoman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, the ruling conservatives in Angela Merkel’s government said in a statement that Johnson “must lead Great Britain back to reality.”

"We expect him to adopt a responsible policy in the interests of Britain,” Katja Leikert said. “Responsible means... that an unregulated exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union must be avoided. There must be no experiments at the expense of citizens.”

READ MORE: A clown, an opportunist, Europe's own Trump: German media takes a dim view of Boris Johnson

Across the border, in the EU’s third-largest economy, Johnson is far from popular after repeatedly insulting France. Footage of him calling the French “turds” and accusing them of “shafting Britain” was cut from a BBC documentary in June reportedly over foreign office concerns that it could damage the British-French relationship.

When he was foreign secretary in 2017, Johnson warned then-French prime minister François Hollande against dishing out World War 2 style “punishment beatings” to the UK over its decision to leave the EU.

Calling him a “future Queen’s jester” France’s Libération on Monday described Johnson as a “liar, egocentric, obsessed with money but appreciated for his eccentricity and self-deprecation.” Meanwhile Le Figaro charts Johnson’s rise to power as “ambition riddled with controversies.”