Tom Tugendhat expertly puts the boot into Boris without mentioning him
The rising star MP showed how to stay classy while taking potshots at a senior colleague.
Tory rising star and foreign affairs select committee chair Tom Tugendhat has used an interview with The House magazine to set out his belief that Britain must put values above "raw economics" in foreign policy.
And his belief that Boris Johnson is a bit of a joker.
Asked to rate the current foreign secretary, the ever-smooth Tugendhat began by damning his senior colleague with faint praise.
"He’s certainly got a lot of passion for the United Kingdom and has a way of expressing himself which certainly carries a lot of noise."
Without referring directly to the foreign secretary, he then tactfully suggested that Johnson’s jokey approach to diplomacy might be entirely the wrong way to go about doing the job.
"There are many people who don’t understand quite how difficult it is to translate humour, because humour is fundamentally cultural.
"It is really, really hard to do cross-cultural humour. I just think that at the moment, when what we really need is a very, very cool headed, stern and strategic look at our foreign policy and our alliances, what we need is a very, very cold and considered approach to our foreign strategy."
Tugendhat is highly-rated by many Tory MPs, one of whom says: "His raid on the foreign affairs committee was a daring example of what you can do if you get your timing right and bring the right forces together. I’m sure he’s got a big contribution to make."
Others go further, suggesting that the son of a high court judge who was spotted serving wine to punters at the recent Tory conference is an obvious leader-in-waiting.
In the interview, Tugendhat makes it clear that he is up for being the next leader. As if many of his colleagues were in any doubt.
"Would it be great to be PM? Yep, it would be. Would it be great to be Foreign Secretary? Fantastic. Would it be great to be Defence Secretary? Wonderful. Would it be great to be a minister of any kind? Yes, because all of those opportunities to serve are very much winning a lottery in what is frankly a fantastic opportunity to serve our country in a different way."