UK’s Johnson says his comments about US envoy were a factor in his resignation


LONDON: Boris Johnson, frontrunner to be Britain’s next prime minister, denied he was responsible for the resignation of the ambassador to Washington but admitted his comments had been a factor in the shock departure of one of the country’s most senior diplomats.

Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Party, speaks during a hustings event in Cheltenham, Britain July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The former London mayor has been heavily criticized by lawmakers in his own party and the opposition for failing to defend Kim Darroch after Donald Trump attacked the envoy for leaked remarks describing the U.S. administration as inept.

Darroch resigned after days of scathing criticism from the U.S. president on Twitter. A diplomatic source told Reuters that the lack of support from Johnson during a televised debate with his rival for the premiership, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, had also been a factor.

Johnson said Darroch had not watched the debate but had heard an inaccurate account of what was said. He said he had not defended the ambassador more because he did not think civil servants should be dragged into political disputes.