During a state visit to Gambia, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to answer questions from local journalists regarding previous comments and articles where he voiced support and nostalgia for colonialism.
Before becoming Britain's foreign minister, Johnson was known for his offensive writing as a newspaper columnist. In a 2002 article in The Telegraph he criticized a trip by then Prime Minister Tony Blair to Congo, employing a racially charged term to describe the Commonwealth's African members.
"It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies," Johnson wrote using a term that means “small Black children.”
Longing for British colonialism in Africa, he wrote in a 2002 column in The Spectator: “The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge anymore.”
However, during a press conference with Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow Tuesday, Johnson’s press team blocked Gambian journalists from asking questions about his previous comments, saying their questions were “too aggressive” and “insulting.”
Johnson told reporters that Gambia would be readmitted "as fast as possible" to the Commonwealth. “We are going to admit them as fast as possible. Last night I talked to the Commonwealth secretary general, and she is determined to speed it up and get it done as soon as possible."
Longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled since seizing power in 1994, fled Gambia last month after regional militaries launched an operation to remove him.
In 2013, the former coup leader pulled his tiny West African nation out of the Commonwealth, the grouping including Britain and most of its former colonies, branding it a "neo-colonial institution." He also sought to pull the country out of the International Criminal Court and declared the country an Islamic republic.
However, Barrow, who won a Dec. 1 election that Jammeh rejected, vowed to return the country into the Commonwealth and to improve relations with the former colonial ruler Britain.
He lived in the United Kingdom for years where he worked as a security guard at various high-street shops, including the shoe shop Office. He said in previous interviews that he had “learned a lot” from his time in England.