Will Boris Johnson prove himself as foreign secretary?

Boris Johnson made his first trip to Brussels in his capacity as British foreign secretary on Monday. While there, the controversial Brexit supporter stressed London's desire to continue cooperating with the EU. Some commentators are delighted at this new, more restrained stance. Others don't trust him.

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The Spectator (GB) /

Boris makes Brussels sit up and listen

Johnson’s debut in Brussels has shown that his appointment was a good decision, the journalist Tom Goodenough writes in his blog for The Spectator:

“We’ve been warned that people would turn their backs on Britain now that we’re heading for the door. But instead, Boris’ arrival in Brussels has garnered the opposite effect: people are genuinely interested in what Boris has to say. So with the media hanging on his every word, is he embarrassing Britain? Is he managing to upset our neighbours who already think Britain is turning its back on the EU? No, far from it! Instead, he’s putting across the message that Britain is open for business. ... Whilst his sense of humour might be edgy, we should be excited and relieved that people are actually listening to Boris put a message across which those around the world need to hear.”

Večer (SI) /

Tame Johnson might soon be snarling again

Johnson’s restrained behaviour in Brussels might be conditioned by the fact that the newly formed British government still has no plan for Brexit, Večer suspects:

“Following the Brexit vote they need to get the political crisis that has broken out in the country firmly under control. Moreover, they don’t know yet how to pacify the Scots and Northern Irish, who do not want to leave the EU. Johnson’s conduct in Brussels was very moderate compared with his statements during the referendum campaign, when he even compared the EU project to Hitler. But that doesn’t mean that his words won’t become harsher again. How he presents himself in the future will depend largely on the behaviour and attitudes of his discussion partners in the EU and in Europe’s major capitals.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

London's diplomacy needs a shot of adrenaline

The appointment of the controversial Brexit advocate Boris Johnson as British foreign secretary is as daring as it is welcome, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“This could turn out to be an inspired appointment - imaginative, clever, bold and offering Britain just the voice it needs at a time of major rebalancing of our foreign policy. For it is imperative that we make clear to the world that Brexit does not mean shrivelling into a crabbed little island off the north-west coast of Europe. ... Diplomats need to exude as never before confidence and optimism about Britain’s future outside the EU. This is no time to hunker down in a defensive crouch. Britain's diplomats need a shot of adrenaline that only Mr Johnson, with his panache and brio, can provide at this crucial point in our history.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Keeping Johnson on a short leash

Appointing Johnson as foreign secretary is a clever move on the part of the new prime minister, Večernji list believes:

“Theresa May has both rewarded and neutralised Johnson with this move. The prestigious title of foreign secretary is all the British clown ends up with, because May has already reduced the power and influence of this ministry. For example, a Brexit Ministry has now been established with David Davis at its head to oversee the process of leaving the Union. In addition May will certainly make free and extensive use of her veto right as prime minister to exert control over the Foreign Office. So while May and Britain will have to put up with the odd excentricity on the part of this clown, Boris will be kept on a short leash - and in any event will spend most of his time flying to this or that far corner of the world. A clever decision, as Johnson is the face of the Brexit and has the support of millions of voters.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Loudmouth as foreign secretary a provocation

Boris Johnson's appointment as foreign secretary can only be interpreted as an irresponsible provocation for Europe, El Mundo comments:

“There can be no doubt that May has done all she can to calm the turbulence in the Conservative Party and try to build a cabinet that incorporates all the different currents. After all at this stage she is only a replacement for Cameron who has yet to be legitimised by the voters and must now manage a profound party crisis. … But none of that justifies Johnson's appointment as foreign secretary. It is an irresponsible and provocative decision to put a man with a reputation for being a loudmouth and making gaffes, with an endless list of insults to international leaders in this post. … What's more, his criticism of the EU was so full of lies and exaggerations that it has disqualified him from being one of the principle dialogue partners for the European governments.”

More opinions

Die Presse (AT) / 15 July 2016
  Johnson criticised no matter what he does (in German)