Saturday, 16 July 2016

Boris is an inspired choice for British Foreign Secretary

Selwyn Lloyd, the future British Foreign Secretary, when offered the position of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs by Winston Churchill at first wanted to decline, because he spoke no foreign languages and had never, except for his war service, been abroad. Something not uncommon among upper middle class Englishmen in 1951. 'These are two excellent qualifications for the job,' said Churchill.

Boris speaks Russian, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Reads Greek and Latin. Not sure if he has much Turkish.

He promises to be the best Foreign Secretary for decades. Not difficult, because they have mostly been colourless and cowardly since 1960, except for Lord Home, and he took us into the EEC, and Lord Carrington, whose Rhodesia deal led to the disaster in Zimbabwe. And they were the two best ones. 

By the way, they, like Boris and so many of our Foreign Secretaries, went to Eton. Lord Carrington wasn't clever enough for university and went to Sandhurst, while Lord Home took a Third at Oxford.

Boris is not good on detail and the Foreign Secretary doesn't have to be. He is great at speaking and at charming people. He is a Brexiter, which is important in the role, and will present a positive, engaging face of Brexit Britain, the reverse of xenophobic. And most of the work will be done by Theresa May, Liam Fox and David Davies. Americans and Europeans will love Boris, partly because he's an Etonian but mostly because he's Boris. 

Much is made of his history of candid remarks about foreign leaders. 

His remark about Obama's prejudice against Britain thanks to his part-Kenyan heritage was very reasonable and has been said by countless commentators. His insults to Trump and Hillary - especially to Trump - are more embarrassing. His rude poem about Erdogan doesn't matter - Erdogan is a bad guy. It is slightly Palmerstonian.

Getting booed on his first day by the French
was almost to be expected and even a promising start. I hope he can get the FCO to change its pro-EU, pro-international bureaucracy outlook. For that he will need all his great charm, leadership qualities and brains.


  1. It's nice to see a positive comment about Boris.

    I used to like him but went off him due to Brexit. But I'm willing to give him the benefit of doubt. As with all these new government leaders -- let's reserve judgement until we see what they actually do. They'll have plenty of opportunity to make a balls of things, or not...who knows?

    Boris comes over as a joke and I resent him for Brexit, but let's see if he can do anything positive in his new role.

    It's interesting to see that he knows so many foreign languages. That's a good sign and shows that he's not totally brainless.

  2. Why do you feel so strongly about Brexit? The EU not only undemocratic in itself but infected our whole political system with the idea that bureaucrats no best - the Continental philosophy. Charles Moore makes this point well on Saturday.

  3. This was the article I meant.

  4. A flagrant opportunist made to remasticate his folly my the estimable Theresa. He has Bunter like appetites and bluster, but not an ounce of conviction. I blame his parents.