Barack Obama Slaps Down Boris Johnson's Claim He Doesn't Like Churchill Or Britain

Obama says he 'loves' Churchill.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Barack Obama has gently slapped down Boris Johnson for saying he removed a bust of Churchill from the White House and, therefore, doesn't like Britain.

Pro-Brexit Johnson made the claim as part of his attack on Obama, as the president arrived to argue the UK should stay in the EU.

Johnson faced derision on Friday for a column in The Sun in which he said the "part Kenyan" Obama had an "ancestral dislike" of the UK.

He cited the story of Obama returning the Churchill bust to the British Embassy shortly after taking office in 2009. In 2012, the administration clarified it had merely been moved from the Oval Office to the Treaty Room in the White House's second floor.

At a press conference with David Cameron on Friday evening, Obama said he "loved" Churchill and explained why he replaced the bust in the Oval Office with one of Martin Luther King.

At the press conference, Obama said the Churchill bust was now "right outside the door of the Treaty Room, so that I see it every day, including on weekends when I’m going into that office to watch a basketball game, the primary image I see is a bust of Winston Churchill".

He said bust of the civil rights leader was more appropriate given he was the first African-American president.

"I think people should know that, know my thinking there," he said.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

In his column, Johnson wrote: "Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender."

Churchill's grandson and Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames tweeted Johnson was "totally wrong".

“Appalling article by Boris Johnson in [The] Sun, totally wrong on almost everything,” he said.

Shadow Chancelloer John McDonnell called on Johnson to withdraw the remark.

The London Mayor has not responded to Obama's intervention against Brexit, which has infuriated the Leave campaign.

Ukip MEP and former Express journalist Patrick O'Flynn tweeted: "What has Dave got lined up next - invite Angela Merkel over to say she will invade us if we vote leave?"