US President Donald Trump’s team does not want to work with Boris Johnson because “they think he’s a joke,” it has been claimed.
White House officials, as well as diplomats across Europe, are confused by Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to make Johnson Britain’s foreign secretary and do not take him seriously, according to the Times’ Rachel Sylvester.
Johnson, who went up against May in the race to succeed David Cameron as PM, has been accused of insulting foreign counterparts and demeaning his own office on numerous occasions since becoming foreign secretary last year.
Diplomatic sources told Sylvester that figures in Trump’s team “don’t want to go anywhere near Boris because they think he’s a joke.”
“It’s worse in Europe. There’s not a single foreign minister there who takes him seriously. They think he’s a clown who can never resist a gag,” a current British minister added.
Another Tory MP said “The French think Boris is totally unreliable, the Germans think he’s lying and the Italians think he’s dangerous. He is undermining our ability to negotiate internationally and degrading our position abroad. The foreign secretary is supposed to enhance Britain’s reputation but all over the world Boris is making matters worse.”
Civil servants in the Foreign Office are “horrified” by Johnson’s lack of discipline and professionalism, Sylvester adds.
“It’s all about managing Boris, not respecting him,” she quotes one Whitehall source as saying.
“He’s got no concentration span so it’s difficult to have a detailed discussion with him. The whole thing is completely ramshackle for someone who is supposed to be so clever. He doesn’t know what he thinks so he flies by the seat of his pants,” the source added.
Downing Street responded to the newspaper by saying it had “full confidence” in Johnson and that he was “doing a good job.”
Concerns about Johnson have also been raised in the left wing British media. The Guardian’s Owen Jones wrote on Tuesday that the foreign secretary is a “national humiliation.”
Jones says the charge sheet against Johnson was extensive before he was appointed.
“Here was a man who described black people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles,’ who suggested Barack Obama’s opposition to Brexit was driven by his ‘part-Kenyan’ ancestry.
“As editor of the Spectator, he published articles describing black people as having smaller brains and lower IQs and blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster. If equal marriage should be permitted, he once wrote, then why not allow ‘three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog’ to get hitched?” he added.