Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 June 2019

Boris Johnson defends British relationship with America

The UK foreign secretary stresses the need for good relations with Donald Trump

Boris Johnson said he had a good relationship with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson. AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Boris Johnson said he had a good relationship with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has used a newspaper interview to stress that the country needs to maintain good relations with Donald Trump’s administration. However, he told The Guardian that he was no longer using the phrase “special relationship” to describe links with the US because it came across “a bit needy”.

“It’s a crucial relationship, and it’s a very positive relationship,” he told the newspaper, and confirmed that the plan was still for there to be a state visit to Britain at some point, despite Mr Trump having cancelled a proposed visit to the country.

“I think that we will have a visit in due course.” he told the newspaper, stressing how its readers “should understand that America, for better or worse, in our lifetimes, has incarnated values of liberty and fairness and freedom around the world, and it still does”.

Mr Johnson addressed the negative opinion that many Britons have about Mr Trump, saying: “Let us have a grown-up conversation with our American friends about the things we want to do together.”

He attacked the leader of the opposition in Britain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said at the weekend that the country had more important links with countries than the much-feted special relationship with America.

“For Jeremy Corbyn to say that this relationship doesn’t matter is, I think, insanity, and irresponsible. And to try to banish the president of the United States from visiting the UK when he’s had trips to France, to Germany, to Japan, to China, is, I think, for the Labour party extremely odd.”

Mr Johnson also spoke about how he has struck up good relationship with his American counterpart, Rex Tillerson, whose approach to North Korea he supports.

“The approach that Rex Tillerson has been taking has been entirely right, which is to build an international consensus,” Mr Johnson said. “Kim Jong-un, the language that he has used: destroying not just parts of his neighbours but parts of the United States; his incipient ability to launch a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile – a threat of the kind the world has not known since the dawn of the atomic age.

“We have a genuine possibility of a rogue state capable of nuclear blackmail and capable of nuclear destruction. I think that’s something that we cannot ignore.”

Updated: January 16, 2018 09:21 AM