Foreign Secretary, UK Government
Issue: Systemic Social Care Crisis in the UK
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has struck a series of critical blows to Theresa May’s attempts to steer the UK through difficult Brexit negotiations, saying the Prime Minister is not sufficiently ambitious in triggering a new trade deal with the EU and questioning her own leadership.
Speaking in Brussels, Johnson argued that the UK can sign a bespoke free trade deal with the EU but not one on social security arrangements.
“I think we should be ambitious for the Britain we want to be, rather than a country that’s a hard copy of a lot of other places on the continent,” he said.
Johnson also questioned the Prime Minister’s handling of the future of the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU on social security arrangements, saying the UK should “make our own red lines”.
In a piece for the Telegraph this week, Johnson said: “How can the UK be expected to respect existing EU treaties and obligations if we are not prepared to accept the very terms of the legally binding withdrawal agreement they have arrived at?”
June backbench debate “cringe-worthy”
Describing it as “cringe-worthy”, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband has hit out at the energy secretary, Amber Rudd, and former party chairman Sayeeda Warsi for refusing to debate their differences at a June event organised by the Evening Standard.
Speaking to Andrew Marr on BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday, Miliband slammed the backbench debate, saying it was embarrassing and unelectable for those who objected to the debate to then proceed to a “populist” election campaign.
“That was a humiliation for the British people because they were let down and there was no pathway out of that humiliation because parliament had not addressed it,” he said.
“It was hard work for people in their constituencies asking about it. It was over before it was started.”
Miliband also said that Johnson’s resignation as Foreign Secretary was a big mistake.
“Boris was being terrible for Theresa May, for the country, he was making her look incompetent and inept and he had become a political liability for her,” he said.
“I think if there is going to be an alternative to what is going on in the Conservative Party at the moment it’s the former prime minister, Tony Blair, who has a really good record of getting consensus with the other parties in the Commons and he would be the kind of person who could provide the leadership that’s needed.”
‘Madmen behaving madly’
Former US President Barack Obama, speaking to ABC’s “This Week” show, said Johnson’s jibe at President Donald Trump at a recent meeting with G20 leaders in Hamburg, was “just outrageous.”
“My problem with what Boris said is I think the United States is very serious business,” Obama said. “And you know as a United States citizen, as a citizen of the world, you never would say something like that.”
The former US President also referred to the UK prime minister, May, as “dutiful” when questioned about Johnson’s attempt to offer an olive branch to the “crazies in America” and his recent praise for President Trump’s softer approach to both NATO and US involvement in the fight against terrorism.
Obama said he was unconvinced by Theresa May’s response, telling the Daily Mail: “I think what is going on in the government is so incoherent at this point that I am not so sure this was Theresa May’s idea.”
The former president claimed that it was akin to a “madman would say this but in fact is one”.
He added: “Maybe Trump is just a few steps behind. The truth is, I don’t know.”
“And I find it interesting that [Johnson’s] popularity, the victory in [the EU referendum], it was in part fueled by the argument that the global interests of the UK, those nations, people in the UK were really important not just to Britain but to the world.
“And yet the British government sees itself as the junior partner in the relationship with the US on trade issues and was sending me letters and emails, even before I left office.”