BoJo the survivor - is he unsackable?

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 November 2017 in Comment

Boris bungles don't appear to have hampered the Foreign Secretary's prospects

Boris Johnson - PA

If it wasn’t for two high profile resignations in Theresa May’s cabinet this week – Sir Michael Fallon, who resigned amid the Westminster sexual harassment scandal, and Priti Patel, who yesterday was summoned from a foreign trip to resign over secret meetings with Israeli officials – Boris Johnson would have been in big trouble.

Or would he?

As the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has been the man ultimately responsible for British diplomacy at time when Britain is allegedly using Brexit to forge new partnerships and relationships across the globe.

This is a man who once called citizens of the Commonwealth “flag-waving piccaninnies”, a man who said people from the Congo had “watermelon smiles”.

Former United States President Barrack Obama has an “ancestral dislike” of Britain, the Foreign Secretary alleged. 

Then, at Conservative party conference he joked that private investors could make Libya “the next Dubai” if they “clear away the dead bodies” first.

In 2011 the UK had intervened in the Libyan civil war as part of the NATO force which enforced a no-fly zone and naval blockade. Bombs were dropped on Tripoli.

Six years later and the British Foreign Secretary had turned it into a joke.

This particular captain’s loose lips appear not to have sunk his ship.

But this week, Johnson seemed serious enough when he said British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is in an Iranian jail after being convicted of spying, had been “simply teaching people journalism”.

Unfortunately she, her family and her employer have all insisted she was on holiday, taking her daughter to visit her grandparents in Tehran.

Because of Johnson’s aside, she could now face a further five years behind bars. Iranian television news have welcomed his “confession”.

Lord Ricketts, the UK’s head of the diplomatic service between 2006 and 2010, has said Johnson “for all his talents has not succeeded in convincing people he’s a serious heavyweight Foreign Secretary with real authority. That’s a real problem.”

And today Johnson has called President Donald Trump a “great huge global brand”. Does the Foreign Secretary sense a kindred spirit with similarly loose lips and an ability to shoot from the hip, or is he simply running out of potential post-Brexit partners?

Maybe he’s trying to distract us from his latest blunder.

Whichever it is, his job doesn’t appear to depend on it. 

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