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Monday, July 25, 2016

Doing a Boris

When the history of post-Brexit Britain comes to be written historians everywhere will be scratching their heads over the decision by Prime Minister May to appoint Boris Johnston to the role of Britain's leading diplomat.

Diplomacy has never been one of my strengths but at least I try and engage my brain before I speak. Doing a Boris shall henceforth be the term applied to those who have been promoted above their ability and who speak out in a way that offends the maximum number of people.

As the Guardian reports the latest such gaffe comes from the master himself. The paper says that our foreign secretary, has been urged to avoid passing politically sensitive judgments on world events until he is in full possession of the facts. This comes after Boris prematurely blamed Islamist terrorists for the killings in Munich on Friday:

Johnson made his remarks before the identity of the killer – an 18-year-old German citizen of Iranian descent who was obsessed with mass slaughter – had been known.

Although early reports of the attack, in which Ali Sonboly shot nine people dead before killing himself, suggested a gang of three people might be on the loose in Munich in a terror attack reminiscent of the killings in Paris, no definitive information was available and the authorities had not identified a motive for the killings.

Speaking about the attack on Friday while in New York, Johnson told the press that that the “global sickness” of terrorism needed to be tackled at its source in the Middle East.

“If, as seems very likely, this is another terrorist incident, then I think it proves once again that we have a global phenomenon and a global sickness that we have to tackle both at the source – in the areas where the cancer is being incubated in the Middle East – and also of course around the world.”

He added: “We have to ask ourselves, what is going on? How is the switch being thrown in the minds of these people?”

Boris had previously been grilled by journalists at a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State on his past Borisms. He was repeatedly pressed to explain his past “outright lies” and insults about world leaders, including describing the US president as part-Kenyan and hypocritical.

He came under strongest attack from American journalists, who asked him if he was going to apologise to world leaders, including Barack Obama, for his past insults, and whether other politicians could trust him. His reply summed up the awkward position that he and the UK are in:

“We can spend an awfully long time going over lots of stuff that I’ve written over the last 30 years … All of which, in my view, have been taken out of context, through what alchemy I do not know – somehow misconstrued that it would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology to all concerned.

“There is a rich thesaurus of things that I have said that have, one way or the other, I don’t know how, that has been misconstrued. Most people, when they read these things in their proper context, can see what was intended, and indeed virtually everyone I have met in this job understands that very well, particularly on the international scene."

The one learning point he may wish to take from that particular press conference is to not confuse Turkey with Egypt in future.
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