Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Goes AWOL

EU foreign ministers are meeting on Sunday to discuss the outcome of the US election.  Our Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson brings shame on himself, his office and our country by announcing he will not turn up.

The UK remains a member of the EU for the time being and should make its voice heard fully in Europe for as long as it can.

The US election result has important implications for Europe. Just as European politics affects the US.  The shape of trade between the EU and USA may be affected by Trump’s win (will TTIP happen, how might it change?). European defence may need reconsideration (and more investment from the member states) if Trump’s rhetoric against NATO is serious.

EU states have shared interests and different perspectives from their respective diplomatic services.  There will be a lot to talk about.  There will be a lot of work today, not least to direct the EU’s diplomats (the External Action Service) what strategy the member states want pursued.

Boris Johnson’ failure to attend is poor.  It looks like the stereoptypical behaviour of a spoilt boy who cannot be bothered to do extra work at the weekend.  It also treats his opposite numbers in our 27 closest neighbours with high-handed contempt.  It lets us down.

If tomorrow’s meeting comes to a decision Johnson does not like, he can have no complaint.  If he thinks other are reacting wrongly to Trump’s victory (as he said yesterday) he should meet his colleagues and share his wisdom and insight.

His conduct is far less than any of us should expect or tolerate from our Foreign Secretary.  But it is exactly what we have come to expect from the blustering, amoral showman known as Boris Johnson.

 

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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45 Comments

  • Matt (Bristol) 12th Nov '16 - 6:39pm

    Has he got a cricket match, again?

  • Paul Murray 12th Nov '16 - 7:05pm

    On Thursday Jean-Claude Juncker said “The election of Trump poses the risk of upsetting intercontinental relations in their foundation and in their structure… In general the Americans take no interest in Europe… We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works… I think we will waste two years before Mr Trump tours the world he does not know”.

    Why should Johnson bother attending? From Juncker’s comments it seems that the agenda is clear. Perhaps Mr. Juncker would like to suggest a second general election to see if the Americans can get it right this time?

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Nov '16 - 7:15pm

    “European defence may need reconsideration (and more investment from the member states) if Trump’s rhetoric against NATO is serious.”

    Trumps rhetoric is that continental europe already fails to invest in a way that negates the value of collective defense, if the EU continues to underfund defense and simply builds another structure around which collective defense will fail then how have things improved?

  • Duncan Brack 12th Nov '16 - 7:15pm

    Paul Murray – so the Foreign Secretary is only supposed to attend meetings where the topic is one with which he agrees? In which case, why do we need a Foreign Secretary at all?

  • I am not a lover of Boris Johnson, but lets get some facts here
    A foreign office spokesman has said
    “There is a regular Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday where a range of issues can be discussed in the normal way.”
    “”We do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the US election timetable is long established. An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition period and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain.””

    As far as I can tell Boris Johnson is behaving entirely appropriately and diplomatically.

    As much as we might not like the US election result, this was the democratic choice of the American people. For the EU to call an “special meeting” because of the result of the election is diplomatically insulting to the Americans.
    There is nothing that could not wait until Monday morning.

  • Paul Murray 12th Nov '16 - 8:54pm

    @Duncan Brack – Why should there an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss a perfectly normal event – the election of a US president – when there is a regularly scheduled meeting the very next day? If necessary this could easily be added to the agenda.

    After all, the UK Prime Minister was recently relegated to speaking about her plans for Brexit for 5 minutes at 1am during at EU meeting and was met by silence. Afterwards Mr. Juncker’s response to her comments was to say “Pfff”.

    The comments of Juncker and others indicate that Johnson was right to characterise this as a whinge-athon.

  • Any meeting that BoJo does not attend is a meeting where BoJo does less damage to UK interests. Im all for BoJo attending no meetings at all. Give the man a zipwire and a few photographers and he is happy for hours.

  • I think Johnson is making a virtue out of a necessity, he knows no one in the EU takes him seriously or wants to hear his views so he might as well throw his hand in with Trump.

  • Richard Easter 12th Nov '16 - 10:58pm

    TTIP being scrapped is one of the few positives.

  • Why should he attend when the meeting is about Trump’s maxing out on Zac Goldsmith’s style campaigning? Why should he attend when the meeting about Trump maxing out on the Leave vote’s style of campaigning?

    There is a danger of turning people off by saying Trump will be the worst political leader of all time (early analysis suggests that he is backtracking on many of his wild claims and expectations are already set so low) but we should speak out against his style of campaigning and be concerned if that is now seen by members of the right as acceptable campaign winning tricks. Members of the right including Boris Johnson and several other faces within in this government.

    It seems the EU recognise the dangers of inflaming hate speak in order to win an election while the UK accepts that as just what you have to do sometimes. Two previous comments and presumably many other voices around the UK sadly agree more with Boris than the EU.

  • To be honest, I really cannot sympathise with this article’s outrage at Boris Johnson’s petulance. Who would know such a thing could happen?

    There are more important things to focus on Boris’s performance than this frankly, rather patronising grandstanding by the EU Foreign ministers, who are at best passively ineffectual, and at worst, represent the failings of the Western political establishment as much as the Trump election has.

  • The EU seem to be getting a little silly over the election of Donald Trump, it’s a matter for the American people not them. Johnson’s decision not to get involved in the EU’s holier-than-thou whinging might be sensible.

  • David Pearce 13th Nov '16 - 8:29am

    Tomas H-J,
    “To be honest, I really cannot sympathise with this article’s outrage at Boris Johnson’s petulance. Who would know such a thing could happen?”
    Ta, made me laugh.

    The comments here made me revise my initial reaction. We must continue to engage in all aspects of the EU while we are members, and Trump’s policies, plus the EU’s reaction to them, will most definitely affect us whether members or not. Better to know what others think. But he isnt even president yet and nothing could be done in reaction insuch a short term.

    However, if I was the US I would withdraw from NATO. Russia is weak now, there is never likely to be a better time to do so, and Europe is plainly never going to organise is own defence all the time the US promises to do it for them for free. It is in the US interest to force the issue by withdrawing.

    Trump has a vague policy of putting US industrial interests first, which could mean he is against globalisation and free trade. He has made conflicting statements, and anyway will have to content with congress. This is very important for the EU, though even more important for the UK if it is planning to leave the trade shelter of EU membership. If Trump does this, then the EU will react in a protectionist way itself, potentially with the Uk squeezed out between the two. A national disaster is looming. Hardly a worse time for Brexit could be imagined.

  • John Peters 13th Nov '16 - 8:55am

    I look forward to reading the communiqué. No doubt they will insist that the election be re-run.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Nov '16 - 9:55am

    Jonathan Fryet: Is this correctly spelt? t and r are adjacent on the keyboard.

  • >.From Juncker’s comments it seems that the agenda is clear.
    Yeah. After Ukraine, and Georgia, and Russia’s ships and planes being provocative in European waters and airspace, and nice Mr Putin being Trump’s biggest supporter, I think it’s right for Europe to be concerned.
    Not about re-running the US election (that’s just silly, all this ‘you don’t respect the will of the people’ stuff is becoming a tedious, knee-jerk reaction to everything). But about the safety of our neighbours in eastern Europe. And what will happen next in Syria.
    The USA can elect Donald Duck as president if they like, as far as their internal affairs are concerned. But every change in the White House has implications for affairs way beyond their borders.
    For the rest of the world to be concerned at the implications is hardly being a sore loser.

  • Peter Watson 13th Nov '16 - 11:18am

    Apparently the French Foreign Minister is also missing this meeting so do we want to get outraged about that as well.

  • I am outraged at the French foreign minister missing this very important session. Not at all communautaire. We need a full complement of foreign ministers to express their faux outrage in the communiqué.

  • Alistair 12th Nov ’16 – 9:51pm…………..Any meeting that BoJo does not attend is a meeting where BoJo does less damage to UK interests. Im all for BoJo attending no meetings at all. Give the man a zipwire and a few photographers and he is happy for hours………

    Hear, hear! May I add that every subject Boris does not even speak on will be better off…

    Farage ( the only ‘politician’ with the ear of Trump) suggested that it was Boris’s insults that relegated the UK to the end of the queue for Trump’s post election calls…Trump is a classic narcissist and personal insults will be long remembered…

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Nov '16 - 11:37am

    Given the erratic nature of Donald Trump, isn’t it a little early to try and even second guess what Trump might do when he achieves power?

    Perhaps Boris Johnson, our own Homo Erraticus, is best placed to understand the man and judge whether this meeting is likely to be a waste of time.

  • David Pearce 13th Nov '16 - 12:13pm

    Boris Johnson was at the cenotaph today for the commemoration service, so all in all he had a prior commtment.

  • The indignation against Boris over his refusal to attend this meeting, only makes sense in the minds of those who have not yet come to terms with the fact that the UK is leaving the EU.

    If you’d handed in your notice to quit a company that you worked for, no-one would expect you to attend meetings on the determining of the next 10 year company strategy.?

    Once you finally accept that the UK is leaving the EU, it makes perfect sense for Boris to begin clearing his EU desk, and concentrate his attention on UK interests.

  • Far more important for Johnson to be at the cenotaph to-day than attending a meeting of a club we are just about to leave.

  • J Dunn 13th Nov ’16 – 12:22pm………..The indignation against Boris over his refusal to attend this meeting, only makes sense in the minds of those who have not yet come to terms with the fact that the UK is leaving the EU……..If you’d handed in your notice to quit a company that you worked for, no-one would expect you to attend meetings on the determining of the next 10 year company strategy.?…………Once you finally accept that the UK is leaving the EU, it makes perfect sense for Boris to begin clearing his EU desk, and concentrate his attention on UK interests……

    If you gave over two years notice to the company and had not even begun to discuss your ‘leaving package’ I’d suggest that close ties would not just be ‘desirable’ but ‘essential’….

  • Nigel Jones 13th Nov '16 - 1:29pm

    @J Dunn
    The issue is not about us leaving the EU; it is about us cooperating with the countries of the EU on global matters that affect us all. To use leaving the EU as an excuse not to talk with our EU neighbours is not only childish, it suggests a dangerous attitude for our long-term relations with those countries.

  • Sue Sutherland 13th Nov '16 - 2:44pm

    I think JDunn has a point. We have to remember that Boris and the Tories want us to leave the EU so we need to assess and anticipate their actions with this is mind. How ironic that he was attending the ceremony at the Cenotaph though, a remembrance of those who died in two World Wars originating in Europe, when he’s hell bent on leading us out of the organisation which has kept us free from the that kind of conflict, where millions died, for the last 70 years or so.

  • Nigel Jones
    “To use leaving the EU as an excuse not to talk with our EU neighbours is not only childish, it suggests a dangerous attitude for our long-term relations with those countries.”

    But my understanding is that the Sunday meeting was specifically to discuss the implications of a Trump presidency on the future of the EU.? So,..What has that got to do with Boris.? Boris only needs to be at any meeting to determine the transitional, and post Brexit relationship between a soon to be, newly independent UK and the EU.

    What’s more,.. Trump is not actually president, until about 20th Jan 2017,.. by which time our A50 resignation letter if not already submitted, will almost certainly be in the admin ‘typing tray’.?

    We’re handing in our notice and we’re leaving. So, let the EU sort out their own long term relationship with Trump, and the UK can, via Boris, work out our relationship with Trump?

  • J Dunn 13th Nov ’16 – 3:36pm……..We’re handing in our notice and we’re leaving. So, let the EU sort out their own long term relationship with Trump, and the UK can, via Boris, work out our relationship with Trump?…….

    So we’re leaving and, like petulant children, we want nothing more to do with the EU?
    As for leaving Boris to work out anything????????????????

  • David Blake 13th Nov '16 - 4:40pm

    Richard Underhill 13th Nov ’16 – 9:55am
    Jonathan Fryet: Is this correctly spelt? t and r are adjacent on the keyboard.

    There is something strange here. When I clicked on the name my virus software told me it was a malicious site.

  • “So we’re leaving and, like petulant children, we want nothing more to do with the EU?”

    I don’t recall saying we want ‘nothing more to do with the EU’. In fact if you’d taken the trouble to read my comment I said :
    ‘Boris only needs to be at any meeting to determine the transitional, and post Brexit relationship between a soon to be, newly independent UK and the EU.’

    Isn’t that what Boris is paid handsomely to do.?

    If the EU are having some form of anxiety attack, and have specific issues with Trump, they surely need to draw straws, and the one with the shortest straw, then picks up the phone and speaks to him directly.? We’re constantly bombarded by the apparent fact, that liberals,… which I assume includes EU liberals,.. are highly intelligent, and highly educated,.. [they are most certainly highly paid !],.. so I feel confident that left to their own devices, their best EU brains, will work something out with Trump.
    And anyway, why would these highly educated EU officials want our ‘man on a zip wire’ faffing around, dabbling in their Trump~EU relationship, only to put his clumsy rude foot into the mix.?
    These EU guys are smart, they’ll work it out far better without Boris.

  • Paul Murray 13th Nov '16 - 5:22pm

    Further to Jayne Mansfield’s point about the erratic nature of Donald Trump there is a very interesting piece in the Huffington Post where Michael Moore predicts that Trump will not complete a term.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/11/12/michael-moore-trump-president-impeached-resign_n_12934970.html

    Moore’s prediction is supported by Professor Allan Lichtman, who has a good track record in US psephology. Lichtman suggests that Trump’s overweening narcissism means that the Republican leadership regard him as a “loose cannon” and will look for ways to impeach him or otherwise force him to resign.

    Problem is, that means Pence would become President. While Trump might be devoid of all ideology apart from egotistical self-promotion, Pence is a virulent fundamentalist reactionary.

  • Paul Murray 13th Nov '16 - 7:14pm

    Oh, by the way the Hungarian Foreign Minister is not attending either. He described the reaction of some EU leaders as “hysterical”.

  • David Pearce 13th Nov '16 - 7:16pm

    J Dunn,
    “But my understanding is that the Sunday meeting was specifically to discuss the implications of a Trump presidency on the future of the EU.? So,..What has that got to do with Boris.? ”

    i am not clear ther was a need for Boris to drop everything and attend a special meeting. However, i do think it is in the UK’s nationalnterest to know what is said at such meetings. If Boris didn’t go, I am sure the secret services bugged it if they could to find out. Or maybe the americans do, and we just get transcripts from them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Nov '16 - 8:50pm

    @ Paul Murray,
    How and why is Hungary in the EU?

  • Did this meeting actually happen (today)? and if it did who were the attendees? and was any public statement made?

    Based on reports, this meeting was proposed by the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday afternoon. Given that today was Remembrance Sunday – something that that been observed across parts of Europe for decades, I find myself questioning the intent of the person calling the meeting and the making public of its intent and the responses of certain(?) invitee’s.

    I suggest that they almost certainly had ulterior motives and quite expected some (or even specific) invitee’s to decline and hence why the media were able to pick up this story in such a timely fashion complete with certain ‘newsworthy’ details.

    Hence I find it telling that most people have automatically blamed Boris, without even questioning why it was even proposed to hold this meeting today, when it could wait until the next regular meeting and have ministers agree at that meeting to hold a special meeting concerning the possible impact of the US Presidential election result on EU-US relations.

  • J Dunn, there is plenty for the Foreign Ministers to discuss. Russia and Ukraine for starters. They could also discuss the recent Russian assasination attempt.

  • there seems to be an outbreak of politicians behaving badly. for once though I think not going to the eu emergency summit is right. sadly since brexit the eu seems to be behaving in a more and more petulant and ridiculous way, i don’t know who initiated the outbreak, but to have an emergency meeting when the us elects (admittedly via its own broken system, albeit much less broken than ours) a president is crass. did they have an emergency meeting after putin’s last reelection? kust asking …

  • Paul Murray 14th Nov '16 - 7:40am

    From the reaction of the non-attending French Foreign Minister it isn’t clear that this was even a meeting, emergency or otherwise.

    Jean-Marc Ayrault commented “The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is happening on Monday. For those who arrive the night before, there is an informal dinner. It’s not a ‘crisis’ dinner. I can’t make it.”

    So the outrage appears to be because a few ministers chose for various reasons not to attend what is now being described as “an informal pre-meeting dinner”.

    The only statements I can find in the media are some less than earth-shattering comments by the Belgian minister : “We’re going to have to see what positions the new administration takes in coming months”. And by the Italian foreign minister: “Europe should be taking care of its own problems and not worrying what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic.”.

  • Steve Comer 14th Nov '16 - 3:21pm

    I agree with Anthony’s article, I don’t think refusing to attend a dinner like this does anything for the UK, it just shows how irrelevant Britain has made itself post June 23rd.

    As Guy Verhofstadt has said many time, Europe need to evolve structures that can prevent sclerosis in decision making, and it can probably do that more easily without the drag anchor of a British Tory Government.

  • “As Guy Verhofstadt has said many time, Europe need to evolve structures that can prevent sclerosis in decision making, and it can probably do that more easily without the drag anchor of a British Tory Government.”

    Never thought I’d say this,.. but as a Brexiteer, I agree with Guy Verhofstadt. The sooner we can set him, and the EU, free of our sclerotic British ways,..the better.

    Waving,.. not drowning.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Nov '16 - 1:31pm

    Paul Murray: Therefore Vice-President Spiro Agnew had to be removed before President Richard Nixon was forced out. This led to Gerald Ford becoming President, pardoning Richard Nixon and losing an election to Jimmy Carter.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiro_Agnew
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Nixon
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ford

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