Boris Johnson is ‘humbled’ to be foreign secretary… but others are less impressed

Written by David Singleton and Kevin Schofield on 14 July 2016 in Diary
Diary

Watch: Angela Eagle was lost for words, while US state department spokesman Mark Toner could not keep a straight face.

Boris Johnson has said he is "humbled and very proud" to have been made foreign secretary in Theresa May's first Cabinet.

The former London mayor was the biggest winner as the new prime minister began piecing together her top team.

David Davis and Liam Fox were also celebrating after returning to the Tory frontbench after being out in the cold under David Cameron - but George Osborne was sacked as Chancellor.

Johnson's elevation to one of the great offices of state marks a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes, coming less than a fortnight after his hopes of becoming prime minister were dashed.

Returning to his home on Monday night, Johnson said: "I'm very humbled and very proud to be offered this chance. I think Theresa made a wonderful speech this afternoon about her ambitions for the country and how she saw the Conservative government taking Britain forward.

"I completely agree with her sentiments about opportunity and giving people better life chances and clearly now we have a massive opportunity in this country to make a great success of our new relationship with Europe and with the world, and I'm very excited to be asked to play a part in that."

Even the most seasoned lobby journalists were shocked as the surprise appointment was announced on Monday evening.

As was Labour leadership candidate Angela Eagle, who found out about the appointment during the middle of a speech – and looked distinctly unimpressed.

 

 

 

 

Johnson’s appointment has also raised eyebrows across the Atlantic.

The Tory MP wrote of Hillary Clinton in 2007: “She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”

More recently, he described Barack Obama as "part-Kenyan" during the EU referendum campaign.

Asked how he would repair his relations with Obama, Johnson said on Monday evening: "The United States of America will be in the front of the queue."

As the news was digested in the US, state department spokesman Mark Toner could not keep a straight face.

Apparently stifling a laugh on hearing of Johnson's new job, he insisted that the relationship between the US and the UK “goes beyond personalities”.

 

 

 

 

However ITV’s Washington correspondent Robert Moore said there was no question that the appointment of Johnson as foreign secretary has gone down badly with the White House.

He wrote in his blog: “To put it politely, it has not gone down well. Don’t even listen to the State Department spokesman saying it is business as usual.

“The President’s foreign policy team read and was deeply offended by the Boris article that talked of Barack Obama as ‘incoherent, inconsistent and downright hypocritical ... a part-Kenyan President.’

“You can say it doesn’t much matter. President Obama has only six months left in office. But I don’t think that Mrs Clinton will view him differently.

“One veteran Obama official put it this way: Brexit has diminished Britain in this town. Germany is now going to be more central to US policy in Europe. That is doubly true with the Boris appointment.”

In Europe, French foreign minister criticised the appointment in interview with French radio.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said: "During the [Brexit] campaign, you know he told a lot of lies to the British people and now it is him who has his back against the wall. He is up against it to defend his country and also so that the relationship with Europe is clear.”

He added that France needed a partner it could negotiate with who was "clear, credible and who could be trusted".

Over in Sweden, former prime minister Carl Bildt made his feelings clear by tweeting a now-notorious picture of Johnson dangling on the Olympic zip wire and calling his appointment "a joke".


 

Picture by: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

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