30 August 2017

On 22 August (2017) John Kerr published an article in the London Evening Standard that to all intents and purposes was a clear call for the dismissal of Boris Johnson as British foreign secretary. The reasons he offered, which can be read here, come as no surprise to anyone half-way familiar with the appalling reputation Johnson has acquired in his brief spell at the Foreign Office. (I drew attention to his complete absence of diplomatic qualifications a year last June.) But the fact that Lord Kerr is a former permanent under-secretary at the FO and ambassador at Washington and to the EU (now a life peer), lends real weight to the calls for the foreign secretary’s dismissal. Probably taking her cue from this, a week later (29 August), Rachel Sylvester, the respected and well connected political columnist of The Times, published what the Mirror described as a ‘crushing verdict … in a blistering article’ about him: Our foreign secretary is an international joke’, her article was headed. Since The Times has a paywall, Owen Jones handily summarised her piece and added his own flavour to it for the benefit of Guardian readers. The same evening, BBC newsnight picked up the story and gave Johnson’s reputation the right smell by quoting an anonymous official who said that working for the foreign secretary was like having to follow behind a horse and shovel up its shit. In reply, Number 10 gave him the kind of qualified endorsement routinely employed as the prelude to a dismissal, so I’m hoping that his days are finally numbered.

PS (11 November 2017). He’s still there because the prime minister is too weak to sack him and because – to save her party as opposed to her country – she needs to preserve a balance between pro- and anti-Brexit factions in her cabinet (Johnson is the leading Brexiter), irrespective of the qualifications of their senior members for the posts they hold. But the pressure for the dismissal of this arrogant, waffling and thoroughly mendacious Tory opportunist is growing again. See here.

PPS He resigned in July 2017. Rejoicing in the Foreign Office (and in Leicester)! But he will not be out of work for long. Touring circuses the world over will be beating a path to his door.