The former head of Britain's diplomatic service, who also served as ambassador to the United States and the European Union, has some choice words for Boris Johnson.
Writing in the Evening Standard, John Kerr, Baron Kerr of Kinlochard savaged the Foreign Secretary.
Kerr served in the diplomatic service from 1966-2002, and in his piece he claimed Johnson's rhetoric is making it more difficult for allies to work for us.
In particular, he criticised incidents such as Johnson describing Brexit as 'liberation,' during a conference in Munich, and his recent claim that the EU can 'go whistle' if it expects Britain to pay for Brexit.
Kerr also questioned Johnson's motives:
Does he think that if Brexit goes badly the ball might still come free at the back of the scrum, and he might touch down in No 10? Is he still playing to the Mail/Telegraph audience and isn’t too bothered about foreigners?
Kerr's main argument is that it is Johnson's role to create the relationship with the EU after Brexit.
He cites issues such as the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Information System, climate change, human rights, and international laws as ones that Britain and the remaining members of the EU should continue to collaborate on.
It’s his business. Davis’s remit is divorce; Liam Fox’s is trade; Johnson’s is UK foreign policy, including its European dimension. So why, though so damagingly voluble on others’ business, is he so silent about his own?
Beyond the EU, Kerr points out that Johnson has also been less visible on the summer's international crises:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia and Qatar
- Saudi bombing of Yemen
Kerr attributes Johnson's 'silence' on these issues to the fact that US President Donald Trump has ranted about all of them, and he believes that Johnson does not wish to contradict the American leader.
And Johnson has from the start been a Trump apologist: when EU foreign ministers met to compare notes on the Trump election victory he ostentatiously stayed away, dismissing their discussion in advance as a 'whingerama'...
Could it be that he really believes, with Fox, that provided we keep on sucking up a sweetheart transatlantic free trade deal may bail us out?
Standing up to US Presidents, according to Kerr, is how the UK government avoids forfeiting respect from other allies.