Britain’s Boris Johnson would receive warm welcome in Anatolian ancestral home – the National

The frontrunner to be Britain’s next prime minister may have played on fears about Turkey’s EU accession while campaigning to withdraw Britain from the European Union, but he is still remembered with pride in his ancestors’ homeland in central Anatolia, Emirati daily the National reported.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson is far ahead in the polls to take over from outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, after promising to succeed where May failed by delivering Brexit by the end of October.

Johnson co-signed a letter to then-prime minister David Cameron a week before the Brexit vote expressing concerns about what he said was Turkey’s “rapidly accelerating” EU accession talks.

But the villagers of Kalfat, Turkey, would welcome a visit from the British politician, whose family moved to the sleepy community four generations ago, journalist Andrew Wilks reported for the National.

“He’s a great source of pride for us,” Wilks quoted Kalfat villager Satılmış Karatekin, 65, as saying. “For us, he is a Turk from Kalfat and we will always consider him one of us.”

Johnson’s trademark blonde hair may also have its origins in the village, which was once known for its many blonde inhabitants.

The family home lies in ruins now, but in the late 19th century, Johnson’s ancestor, Haci Ahmet Riza Effendi, a rich merchant moved to Kalfat from Istanbul.

Johnson’s great grandfather, the journalist Ali Kemal, is more widely remembered in Turkey for backing the opposition to Turkey’s nationalist independence struggle after World War One, when he sided with British occupying forces against Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal.

Ali Kemal was lynched by a mob on his way to stand trial in 1922. The children he left behind included Osman Wilfred Kemal, Johnson’s grandfather, who was raised in England by the family of Ali Kemal’s Anglo-Swiss wife Winfred Brun.

Former Kalfat district mayor Ömer Karaağaç said he would love Johnson to visit the village despite his comments on Turkey.

However, the sentiment was not unanimous, as 57-year-old shopkeeper Musa Şekerci told the National. 

“He seems like a man who does not like people not from England, despite his background. He has already said bad things about Turks and our president, so I think it would be bad for Turkey,” he said.

Johnson wrote a derogatory poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, after the Turkish president took legal action against a German comedian for reading out an insulting poem during a television broadcast.