‘Boris Johnson could break UK attachment to Washington's neocon foreign policy’

Boris Johnson © Neil Hall
Although critics are slamming Boris Johnson as a clown, it is worth remembering that on foreign policy he has bucked the trend as far as neo-conservatism is concerned, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark told RT.

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman Bow Group also joins the discussion.

New UK Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed former London mayor Boris Johnson as Britain's new Foreign Secretary.

RT: What's the thinking behind appointing Boris Johnson, in your opinion?

Neil Clark: Well, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I think that there has been a lot of chatter on Twitter about Boris Johnson. People are calling him a buffoon, a clown, etc. But it is worth to remember that on foreign policy he has bucked the trend a bit. He wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph back in April, when Palmyra was liberated by the Syrian army with the help of the Russians saying: ‘Bravo Assad’, which is not the sort of thing you hear from establishment commentators in the UK. He was attacked by the neocons in Britain for writing that.

On Russia too and on the Ukrainian issue he has blamed the EU for stirring things up in Ukraine a few years ago. He is not a neoconservative – that is very important; he is not a sort of hawk, if you like.  Although he may morph into one now he has got this important job.

RT: Is this is sort of part of Theresa May’s thinking, do you believe?

NC: I worked with Boris Johnson, I wrote for him at The Spectator. He is not a neocon hawk. He published my articles when I was at The Spectator. He doesn’t tout the foreign policy line – this sort of very hawkish Blair right, or neocon foreign policy, which is about a provocation and aggression towards Russia; which is very anti-Assad and Syria. He actually wrote and said that ISIS is worse than the Syrian government. Again, that is pretty obvious to most people, but not to the British neocons. So I very much hope that he’ll stay to this course and he’ll have a more realistic foreign policy position and break with the aggressive neo-conservatism that we had from Philip Hammond as foreign secretary. But time will tell whether he would be brought into line, and will start to toe the line – the Washington line, the aggressive line.  

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the conservative Bow Group think tank said the appointment of Boris Johnson as the new UK foreign secretary is a signal for the Conservative party to wipe the slate clean.

RT: Is having Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office going to put the cat among the pigeons in diplomatic circles especially in Europe?

Ben Harris-Quinney: Such a huge amount has been said in the last few weeks and the last month that I think this is almost a signal for the Conservative party to wipe the slate clean. Theresa May has made a few off-color remarks about Boris Johnson during her leadership campaign. But I think now there is a recognition that unity is a priority, and the appointment of Boris Johnson would suggest to me that May is far keener to keep Johnson close, rather than on the backbenches, where he could potentially cause some trouble.

RT: He will have now to work with other European diplomats and people he has been critical of. Is that going to be awkward?

BHQ: Well, Johnson is being critical of the EU. I don’t think that he is specifically being critical about any European country. That will really form the basis of our negotiations with foreign powers, not just within the EU, but of course all over the world, where we try to draw up new trade agreements; and new agreements on the movement of people, immigration, and a number of other issues, security as well. I think Boris Johnson has the charisma and the experience in his role as mayor of London to make a go of this.

RT: What about George Osborne’s resignation and the appointment of Philip Hammond as a new Chancellor? Is that an odd one?

BHQ: The point about George Osborne is that he had really staked his entire career alongside David Cameron with Britain remaining in the EU. His card was marked when the country voted to leave. So I wasn’t surprised to see Osborne leave. Of course he is still a Member of Parliament, and I equally wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back again at some point. But the position he holds in the party and the wider country at the moment is not one of great popularity. So I think there are other figures that could bring more to cabinet.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.