Britain loses credibility abroad

Johnson and Truss mocked by East and West

Johnson and Truss mocked by East and West

As the first images of Europe’s biggest conflict for decades emerge, the once unthinkable and unimaginable having become a reality, step forward Boris Johnson: steadfast defender, negotiator, the voice of reason. If the situation wasn’t so serious that would be the cue for laughter from almost everywhere around the globe.

Even Johnson, with his unlimited self-belief, must realise that ship has long since sailed. Aside from his bosom buddies at home, especially those cuddling up comfortingly close either side of him on the government front bench, he is mocked internationally from both East and West. Russian state TV channels have demolished Johnson over the Partygate scandal, adding that he is “under Carrie’s heel”.

In a press conference in Ukraine, he squirmed when asked by the international media why the world should take his diplomacy seriously following Partygate. After Russian TV claims that he is exploiting the Ukraine crisis to distract from his problems at home he had to cancel a scheduled call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid further embarrassment. And even in the USA, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, said President Joe Biden had never been “ambushed by a cake” when answering a question on the Downing Street booze ups.

Boris Johnson coined the phrase “Global Britain” when claiming that Brexit would not only enhance prosperity at home but also Britain’s influence abroad. Worldwide, opinions on that opinion are mostly the polar opposite.

Had the UK remained part of the EU and had Partygate been but a bad dream after too much alcohol, Johnson may well have been the one, or at least one of the ones, representing Western Europe in the negotiations with Putin prior to the outbreak of war. Instead, he has had to watch French President Emmanuel Macron and the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz representing the rest of Europe. Their words might have gone unheeded, but at least they were there, battling on the diplomatic front line. Even Johnson’s foreign secretary Liz Truss was roundly mocked and then completely ignored after she tried to play the heavy with her Russian counterpart. 

Despite Johnson managing to turn the act of blowing his own trumpet into nothing less than an art form, with everything he and his government do never anything less than “absolutely fantastic”, it is only in the UK, and amongst the faithful at that, where his words are given any serious credence. So “Global Britain” is currently a dream rather than a reality.

Globally, the UK is struggling, that once “special relationship” with the US seems now just an illusion and Brexit has left us seeking friends where we can find them. They’re not queuing up, and as the terrifying situation in Ukraine unfolds, Britain may do its bit at home, with sanctions announced against Russian banks and individuals that it should have happened long ago, but it looks highly unlikely that it will play a significant diplomatic role as an international peacemaker. 

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