Political journalist Peter Oborne has called Boris Johnson the most learned, well read Foreign Secretary since Lord Curzon. In the face of opposition from his rivals, Boris has performed outstandingly well on a day to day basis. Oborne, who has known and worked with Boris for years had this to say.“…….. Mr Johnson is rated highly by his officials. They are impressed by the speed at which he masters a brief. They vastly prefer him to his dull, cautious, unimaginative predecessor, Philip Hammond.
But Oxford-educated Mr Johnson speaks near-perfect French, was brought up in Brussels, is fluent in the Classics, is a citizen of the world and commands vast intellectual resources. I would go so far as to say he is the most brilliant, learned and well-read British Foreign Secretary since Lord Curzon occupied the post just after World War I.”
Sadly Oborne at times, fails to understand the nuances of Boris’s thinking. In the past, Boris has said he wanted Britain to do a deal with President Putin. He spoke of the need ‘to set aside our Cold War mindset’. And he welcomed the way that Russian bombers were joining the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad by attacking militant jihadist. He still thinks that.
He has commended Putin’s success against ISIS. But he is equally aware that the Russians were behind the fatal attack on the Malaysian airline. In fairness, Oborne does well to lay out the pros and cons of Boris’s view. But he fails to mention that Boris made a point of saying publicly he strongly opposes the US alleged support of ISIS. He is not an American poodle.
There is no international situation more important than Syria said Boris. The situation in Aleppo is now so appalling, it is in a different category altogether. It is now said Aleppo is a slaughterhouse. Boris believes stronger action is needed, including the necessity of persuading Putin they should collaborate on a no fly zone, He has already urged Putin to end his “indefensible support for Assad.” Situations evolve, they are not set in stone.
The horrible truth is there are no longer any good and bad guys, it is all shades of grey. A failure to look at every argument is a failure to grasp the real reality. That’s why, even though he has opposed the EU since he was a young journalist in Brussels, as Oborne himself has pointed out, Boris went to the trouble of seeing if he could write a strong argument for Remain. He couldn’t.
More than most of us, Peter Oborne must be aware of the contradictions politicians have to live with. Calling Boris a warmonger was just a cheap shot.