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Failing to back the ambassador – the first mistake of the Boris premiership

July 10th, 2019

One thing that we know from the YouGov Conservative members’ polling is that that those who are choosing the next PM have a very different view of President Trump than than most UK voters. More than 50% of CON members have generally positive view compared with 21% amongst the electorate as a whole. The pollster finds 67% of Brits having a negative opinion.

Maybe it was that knowledge which was behind Johnson’s equivocal response in the ITV debate last night on his attitude towards the crisis between London and Washington over the ambassador’s private comments about the American president. This is how the Mirror is reporting it:

“The frontrunner for No 10 failed six times to say whether he would keep Sir Kim Darroch in place, after the US President stepped up his campaign to boot out Britain’s most senior diplomat.

Cowardly Johnson also refused to condemn Trump for criticising Theresa May in a series of petulant tweets.

Earlier Mr Hunt had slapped down “disrespectful” Trump in an unprecedented Love Actually-style breach of transatlantic protocol, warning: “Allies need to treat each other with respect.”

But in last night’s ITV showdown between the rivals for No 10, Johnson would only say of Trump’s attack on the PM: “I don’t think that is necessarily the right thing for him to do.”

Given that Johnson is an ex-Foreign Secretary  then he would have been totally aware of how the diplomatic service operates providing confidential advice to London on what is going on in US politics.  The danger for the presumptive next PM is that this will be remembered and used against him .

The affair allows Boris to be portrayed as Trump backer not ready to back Britain’s man which has the potential to have a long term negative impact.

A mistake and it might be a costly one.

Mike Smithson