As the government ‘consider’ inviting Donald Trump for a state visit, the president-elect was top of the agenda at today’s Foreign Office questions. With the Westminster establishment riled over Trump’s latest tweet claiming Nigel Farage would make a ‘great’ UK ambassador to the US, Simon Burns hit back — suggesting Boris Johnson return the favour and request Trump send Hillary Clinton to fill the role of US ambassador to the UK.
Continuing the theme of putting people forward against their will for jobs that either aren’t available or don’t exist, Labour’s David Winnick said that it was Brandon Dixon — the Hamilton actor who made an anti-Trump speech over the weekend — who ought to become the ‘unofficial ambassador’ from the United States to Britain. After a fruitless five minutes, Boris Johnson was left concurring with Daniel Poulter that diplomats require diplomacy — not inflammatory views.
It was then the turn of Alex Salmond to lay into the Foreign Secretary for looking on the bright side over Trump’s election. The former SNP leader accused him of performing a ‘political pirouette of which Ed Balls would be proud’. Emily Thornberry, too, failed to see any positives to the president-elect. She asked: why should be be positive about his views on climate change?
In response, he accused the shadow foreign secretary of ‘being premature in her hostile judgments of the administration-elect’:
‘I really must say to the right honourable lady that I believe she is being premature in her hostile judgments of the administration-elect. And any such premature verdict, I believe, could be damaging to the interests of this country. It is important for us in this country to use our influence, which is very considerable, to help the United States to see its responsibilities, as I’m sure they will.’
Johnson stood out in the session for displaying pragmatism rather than pessimism. As James Cleverly went on to point out, virtue signalling while fashionable is no basis for a productive international relationship.