In the autumn statement, Philip Hammond chose to mock Boris’ failed leadership bid. This wasn’t the first time that one of the Foreign Secretary Cabinet’s colleagues had had a laugh at his expense. At our parliamentarian of the year awards, Theresa May joked that Boris would be put down when he was no longer useful. But Boris and his circle are getting rather fed up with him being the butt of the joke, as I say in The Sun today.
Those close to Boris feel that these gibes undercut him on the world stage. ‘If they want the UK to be taken seriously, they need to back him not mock him’ one close ally of his tells me. If the Prime Minister and the Chancellor suggest that they regard the Foreign Secretary as a bit of a joke, they invite the rest of the world to follow suit. Why should other governments take him seriously if his own Cabinet colleagues don’t?
I understand that Boris is also irritated by briefings that he turned up to a Cabinet committee with the wrong papers and has complained to Number 10 about it. His frustration is compounded by the fact he’s not being allowed to make the positive case for Brexit and what it means for Britain’s place in the world.
Since being made Foreign Secretary, Boris has thrown himself into the job. He’s thought seriously about what the West should do about Russian revanchism and the rise of illiberal forces. He’s also set about trying to sell Brexit Britain to the world. But Boris can’t bat for Britain on the world stage, if his colleagues break his bat before he gets to the wicket.