It was a particularly surprising turn of events when in July of this year, the new British Prime Minister Theresa May made former London Mayor and Brexit-campaigner Boris Johnson her Foreign Secretary. Since then, America made Donald Trump its next President, so Boris Johnson’s appointment seems a little less far-fetched now.
Boris Johnson has had several views of the newly-minted President-Elect. During Donald Trump’s campaign, Mr Johnson said that Trump’s “stupefying ignorance” made him “unfit” to lead America, and that he was “clearly out of his mind. However, in perfect political style, upon Donald Trump’s election Mr Johnson explained that he was now “looking forward” to working with the new US President.
The UK/US special relationship has been of supreme importance for over half a century, but is likely to be tested by the incoming US President, who has already muddied the waters by encouraging former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and his coterie to protest the development of offshore wind farms in the UK, while simultaneously calling on the United Kingdom to appoint Farage as the country’s next US ambassador.
In Parliamentary Question Time on Tuesday, the idea of Nigel Farage as UK ambassador to the US was promptly shot down by none other than Boris Johnson, who repeatedly responded to questions saying “There is no vacancy for that position.”
The questions were part of a series of questions directed at Mr Johnson during Question Time, which saw him having to defend his past and present friendships, as well as the future of UK/US relationships.
“I think we are all relieved that the Foreign Secretary has ruled out Mr Farage,” said Keith Simpson, MP for Broadland. “In this post-truth world, we might have assumed that he would have been sympathetic, given that they campaigned together so remarkably on Brexit.”
Boris Johnson was also confronted with questions about the incoming President’s views on climate change. Emily Thornberry, Member for Islington South and Finsbury, asked Mr Johnson to “tell us what reasons there are to be positive about the attitude of the new president to climate change.”
“It is vital that we are as positive as we can possibly be about the new Administration-elect,” Johnson replied.
“As I have said to the House before, I believe that the UK-US relationship is vital, and I think that President-elect Trump is a deal maker. The UK has led on climate change globally, and we have had outstanding success. I will be open with the House that we will be taking to the Administration-to-be the message that we believe that the issue of climate change is important; it is of importance to the United States and the world.”
Mrs Thornberry probed a little deeper, though, reminding members that “we have a new president who says that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, who has repeatedly promised to scrap the Paris treaty and whose top adviser on the environment calls global warming “nothing to worry about.” She warned Parliament that Donald Trump’s views represented “a hugely dangerous development for the future of our planet,” before going on to ask the Foreign Secretary whether the Prime Minister, who is set to visit the new president in January, will “have the moral backbone to tell [Trump] that he is wrong on climate change and must not scrap the Paris treaty, and will she lead the world in condemning him if he does?”
Though Mr Johnson’s response was naturally tempered — “I really must say to the hon. Lady that she is being premature in her hostile judgements of the Administration-elect” — Mrs Thornberry nevertheless represents views held by many not only in the UK, but around the world. On the flip side, the Foreign Sectary’s further response — “It is important that we in this country use our influence, which is very considerable, to help the United States to see its responsibilities, as I am sure it will” — bodes well for a UK Government willing to pressure the US on climate change and other climate and energy policy issues.