08:51 GMT +322 September 2019
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    A wax figure of Boris Johnson outside a makeshift No. 10 Downing Street. The Foreign Secretary will be called up to deputise for Prime Minister Theresa May while she is away on holidays.

    May on Holiday, Boris in Charge: 'Like Putting Chuckle Brothers on Newsnight'

    © AP Photo / Jonathan Short
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    With UK Prime Minister Theresa May on a hiking holiday in the Swiss Alps, British government officials have announced that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be taking charge of the country for the next week, sparking a series of jokes and outbursts about his suitability for the job.

    May appointed Johnson as her "senior duty minister" while away on holidays, taking over from Chancellor Philip Hammond, who took on the role last week.

    The appointment means that Johnson has been placed on standby to act as caretaker PM, should the situation warrant it, however Downing Street officials were keen to stress that May was still running the country.

    ​"The Prime Minister is very much in charge and is constantly kept abreast of what is going on," a government spokesperson said.

    'Larry the Cat Can Stop Him From Doing Anything Silly'

    The news, while not expected to serve any functioning purpose, has been met with bemusement and humour by opposition political figures and the public alike, who have questioned Johnson's suitability for such a role.

    "Putting Boris Johnson in charge of the country is like putting the Chuckle Brothers in charge of Newsnight," Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron said.

    ​"Still, at least if he's here, he's not in Rio offending everyone he meets — and there's always Larry the cat to stop him doing anything silly."

    ​"Perhaps he can do something useful with his time in charge, like finding the £350 million a week for the NHS that he promised."

    ​Labour deputy leader Tom Watson also joined the criticism, saying: "Very few people could have imagined a short time ago that Boris Johnson would be in temporary charge of the country this week, including Mr Johnson himself. 

    "Perhaps that explains why he apparently has nothing to do, despite occupying one of the great offices of state."

    ​"Many will suspect that, like his old school chum David Cameron, Mr Johnson craves high office but doesn't really know what to do with it when he achieves it."

    Boris: A History of Insults

    The former Mayor of London was a surprise choice for the role of foreign secretary in Theresa May's first cabinet as PM, particularly given his history of gaffes and offensive remarks aimed at those from other countries and cultures.

    Earlier this year, Johnson won a poetry prize for his limerick about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he suggested the leader had had sex with a goat.

    ​Johnson has also taken aim at allies much closer to the UK, accusing US President Barack Obama of harboring an "ancestral dislike" for Britain as a result of his "part-Kenyan" heritage.

    The verbal attack came after Obama has said his preference was for the UK to remain in the EU.


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