Boris Johnson’s ascent to power celebrated in Turkish ancestral village

A village in central Turkey where Boris Johnson traces his ancestry to is abuzz with excitement and pride over the news that a man they see as one of their own has become the new Prime Minister of the UK.

Residents of the mainly farming village of Kalfat, in Cankiri province, 62 miles north of the Turkish capital Ankara, gathered at its main assembly place on Tuesday to celebrate after Mr Johnson won a Conservative Party leadership contest triggered by the resignation of Theresa May, according to town administrator, Bayram Tavukcu.

Mr Johnson took office as Prime Minister on Wednesday.

Residents here dismiss as "political rhetoric" past comments by Mr Johnson that were sometimes deemed to be anti-Muslim or anti-Turkish and said they hope that he will visit Kalfat while in office.

"We were honoured that someone who has Ottoman genes, who comes from these lands, has become the Prime Minister of a prodigious country," said Adem Karaagac, the former administrator of the village of 1,300.

Mr Johnson's paternal great-great-grandfather, Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi, was born there in 1813 and the house he lived in is still standing.

The family members were known as the "Sarioglangiller" which roughly translate as "of the family of the blond boy", Mr Karaagac said, though it was not known if Mr Johnson inherited his blond hair from his Turkish ancestry.

Mr Johnson is usually associated with the British upper middle class because of his family's wealth and his education at the exclusive schools Eton and Oxford.

Turkey Boris Johnson
The remains of an old house where the great great grandfather of Boris Johnson once lived in Kalfat (Mehmet Guzel/AP)

But he has been known to bring up his Turkish roots whenever challenged about his ability to understand modern Britain's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nature.

During a Conservative Party leadership debate in June, he defended himself against accusations of Islamophobia.

"When my Muslim great-grandfather came to this country in fear of his life in 1912, he did so because he knew it was a place that was a beacon of generosity and openness and a willingness to welcome people from around the world," Mr Johnson said.

Boris Johnson becomes PM
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves outside 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

"I think my Muslim great-grandfather would have been astonished to have found that his great-grandson had become foreign secretary.

"But he would have been very proud and I think it would be a tribute to this country."

Mr Johnson explored his Turkish roots in a 2008 episode of the BBC genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are?

When he visited Turkey as foreign minister in 2016, Mr Johnson told journalists that his family was from Kalfat.

At least six families currently residing at the village are distantly related to Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi, Mr Karaagac said.

Turkey Boris Johnson
Mustafa Bal, former mayor of the village, second left, displays an image on his phone of his meeting with Boris Johnson holding an Ottoman Empire sign (Mehmet Guzel/AP)

Satilmis Karatekin, a distant cousin, said the village would look forward to hosting Johnson in the near future.

Boris' father, Stanley Johnson, visited Kalfat about 10 years ago.

"An Englishman with Turkish ancestry has become the Prime Minister," said Mr Karatekin, whose grandmother, Fidan Karatekin, was Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi's cousin.

Turkey Boris Johnson
Satilmis Karatekin a distant cousin of Boris Johnson prays at the grave of a family member, in Kalfat, (Mehmet Guzel/AP)

"He may be English, but he carries Turkish blood."

Haci Ahmet Riza Efendi's son, Mr Johnson's great-grandfather, was the Ottoman political journalist Ali Kemal who later served as interior minister.

Considered pro-British and a "traitor", he was killed by a mob in 1922 during Turkey's war of independence.

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Boris Johnson becomes PM
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is clapped into 10 Downing Street by staff after seeing Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds waits for him to make a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Protesters outside 10 Downing Street, London, awaiting the arrival of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Newly Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Buckingham Palace in London, following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Buckingham Palace in London, following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he was invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson, center, arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be formally invited to become Prime Minister, Wednesday July 24, 2019. Boris Johnson will replace May as Prime Minister later Wednesday, following her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the Brexit withdrawal agreement she struck with the European Union. (Yui Mok/pool via AP)
LONDON — Boris Johnson was due to enter 10 Downing St. as Britain's new prime minister on Wednesday, vowing to lead the U.K. out of the European Union and unite a country deeply divided over Brexit.It's a tall order. Johnson has just 99 days to make good on his promise to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31, "come what may."The former mayor of London and foreign secretary is getting Britain's top job in politics after winning a contest to lead the governing Conservative Party.Famed for his bravado, quips in Latin and blond mop of hair, Johnson easily defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt, winning two-thirds of the votes of about 160,000 party members across the U.K.He replaces Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc, leaving Britain stranded in Brexit limbo as the U.K.'s departure from the EU was delayed past its long-scheduled March exit date.Johnson was taking office in a day of carefully choreographed political drama that began with May attending the weekly Prime Minister's Questions period in the House of Commons for the last time.The usually boisterous session was subdued, with Conservative colleagues praising May's sense of duty and opposition leaders offering best wishes, while aiming their fire at her replacement. May just shook her head when Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn asked if she would help him stop "the reckless plans of her successor," who has vowed to leave the EU if necessary without a Brexit divorce deal.May offered Johnson slightly muted praise, saying she was pleased to hand over to a Conservative committed to "delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016 and to delivering a bright future for this country."And she fired back at Corbyn: "As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same?"As she left the Commons chamber, May was given a standing ovation by Conservative lawmakers, many of whom helped bring her down by rejecting her Brexit deal.After saying goodbye to Downing Street staff, May stood outside the prime minister's residence and spoke publicly for the last time as Britain's leader.With husband, Philip, by her side, May said it had been "the greatest honour" to serve as prime minister.Reminding her successor of the risks posed by a disruptive Brexit, May said the new government's priority must be "to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom."May and her husband then travelled by ministerial Jaguar the mile (1.6 kilometres) to Buckingham Palace to advise Queen Elizabeth II to ask Johnson to form a new government. The palace confirmed in a statement that the 93-year-old monarch had accepted May's resignation.May left the palace after a half-hour. Moments later, Johnson's car swept through the gates of the royal residence. He will be the 14th prime minister of the queen's 67-year reign.There was a brief hiccup in the smooth handover when environmental protesters blocked Johnson's car by forming a human chain across the road outside the palace. They were quickly bundled aside by his police escort.Greenpeace said its activists had tried to hand Johnson a letter calling for strong action against climate change.Later, Johnson is to give a speech outside 10 Downing St., giving Britons a glimpse at his priorities and policy plans.Then the real battle starts.Johnson has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on the currently scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a deal on departure terms. Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession, and the EU is adamant that the deal it made with May will not be renegotiated.Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said "we are ready to listen and to work with" Johnson, but did not budge on the bloc's refusal to alter the deal."A no-deal Brexit will never be, never, the choice of the EU. But we are prepared," he said in Brussels.Johnson, whose personal brand is built on optimism — and, critics say, an ambiguous relationship with facts — promised Tuesday to deliver Brexit "in a new spirit of can do.""I say to all the doubters: 'Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done,'" he said.To succeed, Johnson must win over the many Britons opposed to Brexit and resistant to his blustering charms.In a sign he hopes to move beyond the largely white, male and affluent Conservative members who chose him as their leader, Johnson's office said his government would be a "Cabinet for modern Britain" with more women and a record number of ministers from ethnic minorities.His administration is also set to include some pro-EU politicians, but many members will be strong Brexit supporters like Johnson. One of his senior advisers is set to be Dominic Cummings, lead strategist for the "Vote Leave" campaign in the 2016 EU membership referendum.A contentious figure, Cummings was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier this year for refusing to give evidence to a committee of lawmakers investigating "fake news."Several senior members of May's government who oppose a no-deal Brexit resigned Wednesday before they could be fired by Johnson. Treasury chief Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Justice Secretary David Gauke all quit, along with David Lidington, who was May's deputy prime minister."Given Boris's stated policy of leaving the EU by October 31 at all costs, I am not willing to serve in his government," Gauke said in his resignation letter.___Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/BrexitJill Lawless And Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson, center, arrives at Buckingham Palace in London for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be formally invited to become Prime Minister, Wednesday July 24, 2019. Boris Johnson will replace May as Prime Minister later Wednesday, following her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the Brexit withdrawal agreement she struck with the European Union. (Yui Mok/pool via AP)
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he will be invited to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Boris Johnson leaves Whitehall before a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II where he will accept her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Boris Johnson leaves Whitehall before a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II where he will accept her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, on the day it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves his office in Westminster, London, after it was announced he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson (left) with Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis as he arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson speaks at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London after being announced as the new Conservative party leader and next Prime Minister.
Newly elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson leaves his office in Westminster, London, after it was announced that he had won the leadership ballot and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced Mr Johnson is the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
Jeremy Hunt (left) and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where Mr Johson was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Lucia Hunt, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced Mr Johnson is the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
Jeremy Hunt (left) congratulates Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where he was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
(left to right) Lucia Hunt, Jeremy Hunt, congratulating Boris Johnson and Sir Edward Lister, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London where Mr Johnson was announced as the new Conservative party leader, and will become the next Prime Minister.
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Mr Kemal's son, Osman Wilfred, Mr Johnson's grandfather, was raised by his maternal grandmother, Margaret Johnson, in Britain after Mr Kemal's Swiss-British wife died and he returned to Turkey.

When Mr Johnson visited Turkey in 2016, he was given a warm welcome despite basing his Brexit campaign on the possibility that millions of Turks could enter Britain if Turkey joined the European Union and despite the fact that he had composed an offensive poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Erdogan was among the first leaders to congratulate Mr Johnson this week and expressed hope the Turkish-British ties would flourish under Johnson's government.

Asked about Mr Johnson's comments on Turkey during the Brexit campaign, Mr Kalfat's former mayor Mustafa Bal said: "He had to say such things in the political arena, for political gains."

Turkey Boris Johnson
A welcoming sign for Kalfat (Mehmet Guzel/AP)

On the BBC show, Mr Johnson described his heritage as being "like honey...or indeed, British sherry" adding: "I am the produce of more than one country".

He took a trip to Istanbul to investigate Mr Kemal's career as a journalist, which led to his murder.

Mr Johnson told BBC journalists that "it must have been very, very tough for my grandfather.

"Maybe it was just too ghastly for him," to know that his father was killed.

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