Boris Johnson finds it “hard to disagree” with Donald Trump’s attack on Theresa May, in which the president labeled her “foolish” and her handling of Brexit a “mess.”
The frontrunner to replace May as prime minister later this month, told Politico that “I can’t dissent” from Trump’s comments.
“I can’t dissent from that,” he said when asked about Trump’s description of her deal as a “disaster.”
He added: “When it comes to the context of what the president has said about the Brexit deal, I find it hard to disagree.”
Pressed by Politico on whether it was right for Trump to personally criticise the prime minister, Johnson replied: “I think most people feel … I don’t want anybody else telling us what to do.
“Or anybody else criticizing our government, I suppose is my feeling. But if you ask me whether I think the Brexit negotiations have been brilliantly handled, I don’t think so.”
The comments came after Johnson’s colleagues accused him of throwing the UK’s former ambassador to the US “under a bus”.
Johnson was branded “contemptible” by his colleagues and a “Donald Trump patsy” by his opponents, after reports suggested his refusal to back Sir Kim Darroch forced the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States to resign.
Darroch was forced out on Wednesday saying that it was “impossible” for him to remain in post after a public row with the US President.
The UK’s ambassador to the US resigned after confidential memos he wrote labeling Trump’s administration “dysfunctional” and “incompetent” were leaked to the press over the weekend.
Speaking during a televised leadership debate on ITV, Johnson also refused to criticise Trump for publicly insulting prime minister Theresa May, saying only that the president had been “dragged into a British political debate.”
A senior ally of Mr Johnson told the Times: “We don’t want to put the whole special relationship on the edge because of a row about one person. We do not have anything to gain from a running spat with the White House.”
Johnson’s refusal to back Darroch, was key to his decision to step down, the BBC reported.
Darroch’s departure triggered outrage among colleagues, some of whom are backing Johnson’s rival foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt to replace May as Conservative leader and prime minister.
Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan accused Johnson of having “basically thrown our top diplomat under a bus.”
He said that Johnson’s refusal to defend Darroch was “pretty contemptible,” adding that: “There are a lot of people here in the Commons who are very, very angry and feel he has lost so much respect for having done what he’s done.”
Conservative MP Sir Patrick McLoughlin agreed, saying: “It is unedifying to see someone who wants to be Prime Minister failing to stand up for hard working civil servants, who have done nothing wrong, under attack from foreign governments.
“Leadership involves standing up for your team. If we don’t call out those who want a witch-hunt through the civil service we are complicit in creating divisions that may never heal.”
“Johnson is effectively behaving as a Donald Trump patsy,” a spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday.
“He won’t stand up to Donald Trump and be won’t stand up for Britain.”
A spokesperson for May on Wednesday said that “an appointment will be made in due course” for Darroch’s successor.