Boris Johnson has come under fire from those working in his own department, who say he is a “liability as Foreign Secretary”.
As diplomatic sources criticised the former Mayor of London, sources in the foreign office gave their opinion of their boss to Newsnight’s political editor, Nicholas Watt.
Reporting on the under-fire Foreign Secretary, Mr Watt revealed: “One figure said that working with Boris Johnson is like walking a few feet behind a horse, shovelling its s***.”
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 29, 2017
The expletive-laden remarks come after Theresa May said she had “full confidence” in Mr Johnson.
Number 10 said the Prime Minister had a good relationship with the Foreign Secretary in response to anonymous briefings saying he was viewed as a “clown” and a “joke” in capitals around the world.
One senior German politician described Mr Johnson’s approach to European politics as “not very clever” but said the Foreign Secretary was beginning to recognise that “big words don’t help”.
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A scathing column in The Times claimed that diplomatic sources believe that officials at Donald Trump’s White House “don’t want to go anywhere near Boris because they think he’s a joke”.
An unnamed minister told the newspaper: “It’s worse in Europe. There is not a single foreign minister there who takes him seriously. They think he’s a clown who can never resist a gag.”
Asked about a claim in the Times that the intelligence agencies were nervous about giving Mr Johnson sensitive material, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “I’m not going to comment on a column in a newspaper.
“But the Prime Minister meets the Foreign Secretary regularly and they have a good relationship.”
Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Mr Johnson and thought he was doing a good job the spokeswoman simply stated: “Yes.”
Pressed on whether she believed he had the confidence of his European counterparts, the spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has a good relationship with Boris Johnson, has full confidence in him and and he’s doing a good job.”
Michael Fuchs, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, suggested that Mr Johnson had calmed down in recent weeks.
Dr Fuchs, the deputy parliamentary leader of Mrs Merkel’s CDU Party, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “It was not very clever from him, the way he handled Europe or European negotiators at the beginning, but I have a feeling that in the last couple of weeks he was rather calm, we didn’t hear much from him so maybe he thought it over and he has to come back to the negotiating table, because it’s a very difficult process and big words don’t help.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said Downing Street’s comment that Mrs May had full confidence in Mr Johnson sounded “suspiciously like a football chairman just before they sack the manager”.