Johnson vows to stand up for Britain’s diplomats
Boris Johnson vowed to stand up for Britain’s diplomats around the world and take a robust approach toward U.S. President Donald Trump if he succeeds in becoming the next prime minister.
Johnson, the runaway favorite to be named as Theresa May’s successor on July 23, has been criticized for failing to support Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, after Trump attacked the envoy, prompting him to resign.
“There are reasons for thinking that our relationship with the United States is the single most important strategic fact of our times,” he told a leadership campaign event. But he added that he had criticized Trump before and would do so again if needed.
“I will stand up for our fantastic diplomats across the world,” he said.
Earlier Johnson has been heavily criticised by fellow Tory MPs over his role in Sir Kim Darroch’s decision to resign as the UK ambassador to the US, with one backbencher saying the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership contest should come to the Commons to apologise.
An urgent question in the Commons about Darroch’s departure, which followed the leak of diplomatic cables critical of Donald Trump’s White House, resulted in repeated condemnation of Johnson, and only one Conservative MP came to his defence.
The criticism was based on Johnson’s choice of language in a Conservative leadership debate on Tuesday, in which he refused to give Darroch his support, even as his leadership rival, the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said he would expect the ambassador to stay in post until his planned retirement.
In a shock move that prompted the senior civil servant at the Foreign Office to call an all-staff meeting to reassure “shaken” diplomats, Darroch announced on Wednesday morning that he could no longer continue in his role following the leak.