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Rex Tillerson Throws Boris Johnson Diplomatic Lifeline After Days Of Continuous Bashing

He's no longer 'a joke' - for today at least.

14/09/2017 22:32

The US Secretary of State has presented a united front with Boris Johnson over the ongoing Brexit negotiations just days after the Foreign Secretary was branded “a joke” by just about everybody.

Rex Tillerson said the United States will be a “steadfast ally” to the United Kingdom as it faces the “unique challenges” of leaving the EU.

He is currently in London for talks with Johnson and Theresa May, covering a wide range of issues including Hurricane Irma, the North Korean crisis and the situation in Libya.

PA Wire/PA Images

The Foreign Secretary will be grateful for the show of support after reports he was considered “a joke” by Donald Trump, White House officials, EU Diplomats and his own civil servants.

Johnson faced multiple attacks - including claims that intelligence chiefs didn’t trust him with secrets - after a former senior Whitehall chief Lord Kerr said he lacked respect in America and Europe.

Just days later the German and French press turned their guns on the UK Brexit negotiating team, with one paper branding him “the biggest opportunist in all of Westminster, always driven by the desire to replace the Prime Minister himself”.

And to top it all off, this week he and International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, were told the Government’s response to Hurricane Irma had been “found wanting” and many suffering the storm’s devastation in UK overseas territories “are still in grave need”. 

A joint letter signed by Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Labour’s Stephen Twigg, international development committee chair voices anger frustration felt across the political spectrum.

But there was no hint of these sentiments during Tillerson’s remarks on Thursday.

At a press conference with Johnson, Tillerson said: “Whilst Brexit does present unique challenges to the British people, please know that you have a steadfast ally in the United States.

“We will stand by our ally as Brexit continues to take shape.”

Tillerson praised the co-operation between the UK, US and France in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, reports the Press Association.

He said: “The co-operation through that event has been extraordinary. All of us set down our own concerns and said ‘what can we do to help each others’ citizens’ and we’re very thankful for that.

“We’re also committed to take that same spirit into the aftermath and how can we work together and co-ordinate now to complete the recovery and begin the long, long process of reconstruction in a way that is beneficial to everyone.” 

Tillerson, who had a meeting with Mrs May’s national security adviser which the Prime Minister “dropped in” on, said it was a “short but very useful” talk.

He thanked the UK for its support in sending a “very strong message to North Korea” that Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions were “not acceptable to any member of the international community”.

Tillerson said he discussed with Mrs May “the threat that Iran poses to the region through its destabilising activities in Yemen, in Syria and in other parts of the region”.

Downing Street said Mrs May also raised the Iran nuclear deal – loathed by Donald Trump – “underlining its importance in preventing Iran procuring nuclear weapons”.

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