With Boris Johnson in charge of diplomacy, Britain has insulted the world | Jonathan Freedland

Some say his character is merely symbolic. Even so it dedicates two thumbs to the countries whose goodwill we will need

Theresa May could seldom have made a worse select of foreign secretary than Boris Johnson. Short of appointing Nigel Farage, or Jeremy Clarkson, the brand-new “ministers ” could not have made a more foolhardy decision, one that smack-dab of the momentous error made by her precede putting the demands of party control ahead of the needs of the country.

I know the counter-arguments. Ive even heard them made by Foreign Office insiders, that are trying to console themselves about their new boss. In this view, the post of foreign secretary is likely to be technically characterize as one of the largest bureaux of state, but the magic travelled long ago. On any topic that counts, “ministers ” make their own foreign policy: just look at Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. The last foreign secretary who actually shaped, rather than merely gushed, the governmental forces row was, “theyre saying”, Ernest Bevin. He held the job seven decades ago.

And this already decreased role was decreased further this week. May deleted two of the most important paragraphs from the job description, siding Brexit negotiations with a view to David Davis and international trade to Liam Fox. On this learn, Johnson will be left with the presentational fluff, serving as a glorified cheerleader charged with an offence making foreigners smile and feel good about brand Britain. Think of him as a minor royal, Prince Andrew with a classics degree. He wont be able to do much harm.

Besides, why not admire the political cunning? May has ensured a potential contender will now be inside the tent, pissing out. Hell have little time to pace the tea rooms and the backbenches: you cant do much plotting at 30,000 hoofs or at a commonwealth dinner in Islamabad.

More importantly, his appointment is only the most visible keep it moving a wider programme to ensure that leave is still in mitts of the leavers. May has tasked Johnson, Davis and Fox along with Andrea Leadsom at agriculture with clambering their way out of the abyss into which they passed the British beings. They laboured for Britain to leave the European union; now they have to make it a reality. Repute of it as Brexit chores for Brexit workers.

That should gag the anti-EU headbangers, at least for a while. They can hardly accuse the government of going soft on Brexit when its their own champions who were responsible. And it could be a win-win for May. If acts start horribly incorrect during the departure process, shell gave the three stooges take the blame.

Alternatively, there is the scenario remainers cling to. What if May is scheming a Bino Brexit in name exclusively in which she complies with the letter, rather than the tone, of the 23 June verdict? What if we end up with an out that ogles a lot like in; what, indeed, if that is the only way to retain our access to the single marketplace?

In that situation, who better to exchange this sellout to the British people than the heads of state of Vote Leave himself? It could be Johnsons finest hour, winsome Boris ruffling his whisker as he searches the voters in the eye and says: I, your most fervent counselor, believe this is the best batch for Britain. By investing Johnson at the Foreign office, May has brought in her own little Nixon ready for the day she needs to go to China.

The problem with all this political logic is the fact that it for domestic purposes merely. Its not what the rest of the world determines. And, recollect, thats what this place is for: to be our nations director statesman, our appearance to the nations of the earth. Its not only another patch on the Westminster chessboard.

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