Boris Johnson, who is likely to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May this month, has attracted the ire of MPs who claim he is partly to blame for the resignation of British ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch.
Darroch stepped down on Wednesday following a diplomatic storm over leaked diplomatic cables criticising President Donald Trump.
May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stood with Darroch after Trump’s angry response to the envoy’s leaked mails.
But Johnson did not support the envoy during a leadership debate with Hunt on TV on Tuesday.
His stand hailing the relations with Trump and the US infuriated British MPs who want the envoy’s post to remain vacant till a new prime minister is named.
During the TV debate, when Johnson was asked whether he wanted Darroch to continue as envoy to the US if he becomes prime minister, the former foreign secretary began to talk about his excellent relations with the White House.
Obviously, Johnson did not want to hurt Trump by protecting Darroch’s position.
Darroch resigned hours after Johnson made the remarks.
When the same question was put to Hunt, he said
Darroch would remain UK’s envoy in Washington if he beats Johnson.
When Johnson’s opinion was sought after Darroch resigned on Wednesday, he called him “a superb diplomat”.
Johnson wondered why people are blaming him for resignation of Darroch.
His shift in stance within hours is seen as unbecoming of a leader who aspires to be Britain’s prime minister.
After accepting Darroch’s resignation letter, junior foreign office minister Simon McDonald wrote back to him that he was the target of a malicious leak while doing his job.
Alan Duncan, another junior minister, told the BBC Johnson “dived for cover and threw Darroch under a bus” during the debate.
Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chuka Umunna said Johnson is more interested in dancing to Trump’s tune than in standing up for a dedicated civil servant like Darroch.
In his leaked cables, Darroch had said Trump administration was “inept” “dysfunctional”, and “diplomatically clumsy.”
He said the president has a short attention span and his “career could end in disgrace.”
Trump hit back by calling Darroch a “very stupid guy” and a “wacky ambassador”, adding that the US would no longer deal with him.
He then turned his ire on May saying she ignored his advice on Brexit and went her own “foolish way.”
Unlike Johnson, Hunt called Trump’s tweets “disrespectful and wrong.”
Johnson may become Britain’s prime minister but Hunt won people’s hearts after the debate.