Andrew Neil was told to “check your facts” after claiming Boris Johnson had pushed Britain’s US ambassador Kim Darroch to resign by failing to defend him during a televised debate on Tuesday. The British Ambassador to Washington came under fire after incendiary comments he had made over President Donald Trump were leaked to the public. After the BBC host suggested Mr Johnson’s performance in the debate had influenced the diplomat’s decision to quit, the former frontbencher hit back: “Actually I spoke to him the following day and said how sad I was he had resigned and he pointed out that he didn’t watch it.
“You might need to check your facts, Andrew, before you. He told me he had not watched the show.”
Mr Neil rebuked his claim, saying sourced had suggested the Ambassador had tuned in to watch the debate from his official residence in the American capital.
He said: “He didn’t say to you that what you had said – I’m told he watched it with his wife in the residency.”
The pair exchanged barbs throughout the interview, one of the last ones before the winner of the Tory leadership contest is announced at the end of the month.
Mr Johnson insisted he was not to blame for Mr Darroch’s decision, claiming that “the real culprits are the people who leaked that material.” He also expressed his commitment to the independence of senior civil servants to “say what they want to their political masters without fear or favour.”
But the BBC host accused the former Foreign Minister of having deflectied questions throughout the contest: “You’re doing what you’ve done throughout this campaign.
“You get asked a question and then you go on to something else which is a sideline to the actual issue.
“What I’m asking you is that when you were asked four times in the ITV debate to support our man in Washington, you did not do so. After watching it he was so dismayed by your failure to do so it was one of the reasons he resigned.”
Mr Johnson also suggested his statements during the debate had been “misconstructed.”
“Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.
“I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during these difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.
“I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the US. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands.”
President Trump had called for the British Ambassador to be sacked saying he was “not liked or well thought of within the US” and warned the White House “will no longer deal with him”.
Reacting to the news, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May said she has told Sir Kim that it is a “matter of great regret” that he has felt it necessary to resign.
Published at Fri, 12 Jul 2019 23:06:00 +0000