You have to feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after his public outburst about Saudi Arabia being responsible for death and destruction in the Middle East by “puppeteering” and waging “proxy wars”.
Here is a man who has built most of his career on dishonesty and lies, not to mention the odd bit of philandering and opportunism, to push his political ambitions.
Remember how he was let go from The Times for making up quotes; how as the Daily Telegraph man in Brussels he constantly wrote untruths about EU diktats on bent bananas and the great British banger; how he got sacked by the Tories for lying about an affair, and, more recently, that £350 million whopper on the side of his Brexit bus?
Mostly, Boris manages to get away with it because of his humour and bravado which the voting public appears to fall for, making him the most popular politician in the land and within a whisker of becoming Prime Minister.
But, ironically, for once in his life, he told the truth about the Saudis and has ended up being castigated, rebuked and ultimately humiliated by 10 Downing Street who ordered him to grovel while on an official visit to Riyadh a few days later.
Yet this is the painfully rich and powerful regime where a distinct lack of human rights and women’s rights alongside head-chopping executions continues to shock the civilised world.
Oh – and there is much evidence to suggest that the Saudis have helped to fund Islamic State and Al-Qaida to forge their terrorism by passing on some of the weapons it buys from British factories.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is leading air strikes in Yemen where innocent families, homes and hospitals are being bombed to bits with British made missiles.
The truth is that Saudi Arabia is one of Britain’s biggest customers therefore the UK government is happy to turn a blind eye to their vile activities. Two parliamentary committees which recommended suspending arms sales to Riyadh have been ignored.
Last Monday the BBC devoted ten minutes at the top of its prime time news to the suffering of the children of Yemen as a result of the war there.
Malnutrition and disease is rampant. The pathetic television pictures of dying babies, designed to shock the world a few weeks before Christmas, prompted the senior United Nations official in the region, Jamie McGoldrick, to declare: “The politics of the situation has overcome humanity.”
The story may well have been an embarrassment to the Prime Minister on the eve of her visit to Bahrain to drum up trade links in the wake of Britain quitting the EU, but it was the Foreign Secretary’s so-called “gaffe” which was the biggest problem.
Boris became a national embarrassment overnight and No 10 acted immediately to make clear that his views were not those of Her Majesty’s government; a rather awkward moment for the UK’s chief diplomat and foreign ambassador.
In fact, his list of gaffes in recent months is impressive:
- He wrote a limerick about the Turkish president rhyming Ankara and wankerer.
- He compared the ambitions of the EU with those of Adolf Hitler
- He accused Barack Obama of having “part-Kenyan ancestry’
- He got involved in a hilarious prosecco/fish and chip war with the Italians
- He refused to attend an EU conference to discuss the election of Donald Trump
- He told EU ambassadors that he favoured free movement of people while publicly supporting a hard Brexit
There now seems to be three schools of thought about the future of Boris.
The first is that his role as foreign secretary is spent because he now has no credibility. Countries will no longer be able to take his views seriously because they won’t know if he is speaking with government authority.
The former foreign secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, reckons he’s in the wrong job and that his days are numbered.
But the other thought is that he is being deliberately undermined by Theresa May because of his ambitions to steal her job.
Some believe he is being kept in the cabinet to appease the Brexiteers and, should the government’s Article 50 negotiations begin to fall apart, he would become the ideal scapegoat.
The third is that in this post-Trump world of populism, when the president-elect makes his announcements via Twitter without caring who he offends, an ill-thought out remark by Boris Johnson hardly matters.
Whatever the facts, we’ve surely had enough of Boris’s lies and dishonesty.
He should speak the truth more often unlike Mrs May who speaks in riddles and says absolutely nothing.