by Iain Donaldson on 15 November, 2016
Many commentators have been shocked to hear Boris Johnson, the Brexiteer Foreign Secretary, calling on the EU to go softly on president Erdogan’s proposals to re-introduce the Death Penalty for treachery and to allow the Turkish application for EU membership to continue.
Perhaps they would be less shocked if they looked at Boris’s heritage and his family. His cousin Selim Kuneralp, is a Turkish diplomat born in Istanbul. Boris himself is the great grandchild of devout Muslim journalist and former Turkish minister of the interior Ali Kemal. Boris’s surname, Johnson, is derived from his paternal great-grandmother, Margaret Johnson, and not his paternal Great-Grandfather, Ali Kemal. Interestingly his grandparents could also have chosen to use the name of his Swiss Great Grandfather Stanley Brun, but did not.
So back to Turkey, and Boris’s stance in the meeting of European Foreign Ministers, was this the view of the British Government or was it a personal view of a man of Turkish descent with a Turkish cousin serving in the Turkish Diplomatic Service?
What we do know is that Johnson’s Great-Grandfather was murdered by a mob in Turkey for his standing up for Liberal values. One wonders if Boris is a little confused on what his Great-Grandfather stood for, on his internationalist views and his Liberal ideals.
Indeed the treatment of political prisoners by President Erdogan, and his calls for restoration of the death penalty sound like the very things Ali Kemal opposed in his lifetime, regardless of the politics of the people they are being used to crush.