Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson answered questions in Parliament today with his customary brio, on vital matters of foreign policy.President Elect Trump: Boris Johnson said We look forward to an enduring and strong special relationship, with security and prosperity in the years ahead. The relationship between the UK and the US is perhaps the single most important geopolitical fact of the last century and I look forward to working with the new administration. After negative comments about the US, Boris said It is very important that we be as positive as we possibly can, because it is massively important to this country. We should judge the US by their actions.
Aleppo: Boris said the FO was working hand in glove with the UN and the US to try to effect a ceasefire. This has sadly proved impossible, even though he recently discussed the matter with John Kerry. The Russians have refused to drop their support for their Syrian client. They have the opportunity to show leadership, we should reach out to them now. It is up to them to call for a ceasefire, and to let the humanitarian aid get through to prevent a catastrophe over the winter months.Farage for US Ambassador: It was suggested Hillary Clinton should be the US Ambassador, this was dismissed out of hand. The Prez Elect has suggested Nigel Farage for British Ambassador. Boris said we have a first rate Ambassador already, (Sir Kim Darroch, pictured above) doing a great job, there is no vacancy.
Nato. We value the Baltic States very highly so should protect Nato, said Boris. Nato is one of our top priorities, and so we should explain to the US, Nato has been the guarantor of peace and stability for 70 years.
What will Boris say to Americans: Boris replied It is vital to get our three most important points across, Nato, free trade and free enterprise and sticking up for the values that unite our two countries. The PM will be making these points, and so will I when I visit the US. We need to build on our relationship with the US. The Trans-Atlantic alliance with Nato, free trade, free enterprise and jointly promulgating the values that ally our two nations are the vital issues.
Climate Change: Shadow FS Emily Thornberry raised the question of climate change, criticising the Prez Elect. Boris said we have led on this globally with great success, and we believe it is important for the world. Boris believes Thornberry is being hostile prematurely. It is our duty to help the US when we can in dealing with their responsibilities.
Migrant problem: Asked what we are doing to tackle the terrible problem of migration with the EU, Africa and the Middle East, Alan Duncan replied that we are tackling the causes and their consequences. Mr. Duncan said the PM had told the UN we should maintain the right to protection in the first safe country, the right to maintain their borders and a proper check between the distinction between refugees and immigrants.
Have the UK and EU partners given any thought to funding President Bashir’s regime to assist in the problem of migration: Mr. Duncan replied NO.
Iraq: Boris said we will continue to support the government of Iraq in all reforms and the reconciliation needed to build public trust and unite all of Iraq’s communities against extremism.
Syria: Boris said we continue in support of a lasting settlement away from Assad towards a stable and peaceful future for Syria.
What lessons were learnt from Libya: There is a huge amount of work going on now, particularly re. Mosul, said Boris, with aid of £169 million committed towards bringing communities together, but it is up to the government of Iraq to reconcile peoples and build up trust.
MPs want to know more about Brexit. Boris told MPs to read the PM’s speeches more carefully. The UK will no longer be governed by EU Law and the best possible deal will be obtained both for the UK but also for the EU.
A future role for Tony Blair? Boris replied: “Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis tempus eget”, quoting Virgil. He added, “There is a great chance to seek new free trade deals around the world, and for this country to become once again the global champion and agitator for free trade.”
Iran Nuclear Agreement. When asked what discussions he has had with the incoming US Administration on their policy on the nuclear agreement with Iran, Boris said “The Government remain committed to the nuclear deal with Iran, and we look forward to working with the new Administration in the United States to ensure that it is a success. He added: “We in this Government think that there is merit in the deal. There has been a considerable increase in trade with Iran since sanctions were lifted—a 40% increase in UK trade. Deals have recently been announced by Lotus and Vodafone, so we should be positive about our engagement and keep the thing on the road.”
The Foreign Secretary’s responsibilities. Boris explained: My immediate priority is to build a strong relationship with the incoming US Administration with the aim of making progress on our shared goals at every level of the international agenda. Foremost among them are vanquishing Daesh, responding to the crisis in Syria and standing firm against the challenge from Russia.
The release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Boris said: “The Foreign Office is in regular contact with the Iranian Government at all levels. The matter has been raised by the Prime Minister with President Rouhani, and by me with Foreign Minister Zarif. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) has only recently had meetings on that very subject. The matter is of the utmost priority for this Government, and we are doing our level best to resolve it.”
Boris Johnson brings his usual clarity to his replies. Questions were also taken by Sir Alan Duncan and Tobias Ellwood, they are on this link with their replies.