Boris Johnson Attacked by MPs Over Treatment of U.K. Ambassador
Boris Johnson was attacked from all sides in Parliament over his treatment of the former British ambassador in Washington — a foretaste of the difficulty the favorite to be next prime minister may face in securing cross-party support for his Brexit plans.
In a televised Conservative leadership debate on Tuesday evening, Johnson refused to back envoy Kim Darroch after his diplomatic cables — which described U.S. President Donald Trump in unflattering terms — were leaked to a newspaper. Johnson’s response, in contrast to the support offered by his rival for the premiership Jeremy Hunt, outraged critics, who said it proved he wouldn’t stand up to Trump if he becomes premier.
“Real leaders protect their people, they don’t throw them to the wolves because they can sniff a prize for themselves,” Labour’s Pat McFadden told the House of Commons on Thursday. Johnson’s “actions were a chilling warning of what is to come if he becomes prime minister,” he said.
Roger Gale — a Conservative like Johnson — called his behavior “lamentable,” while Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson, favorite to become her party’s new leader, called the Tory front-runner a “wimp.” Replying to Swinson, Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan agreed, adding that it “was one of the kinder words” he had used about Johnson.
In an interview with the Sun newspaper, Johnson said he was a “great supporter” of Darroch’s and called the attempts to blame him for the ambassador’s resignation “bizarre.”
“I don’t think it’s right to drag public servants’ careers into the arena in that way,” he said of his comments in the debate.
Lawmakers didn’t hold back in their criticism of Trump either. Labour’s Liz McInnes said the U.S. president was guilty of “ridiculous temper tantrums,” while McFadden called Trump’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere “the opposite of mature leadership.”
(Updates with Johnson comment in fifth paragraph.)