Boris Johnson has allegedly caused controversy again with his choice of words, reportedly saying “f*** the Americans” in response to news that PM Rishi Sunak was willing to compromise on Brexit in order to appease US President Joe Biden.
The former Prime Minister had previously caused a stir when he was reported to have said “f*** business” in relation to concerns from industry leaders about the impact of Brexit.
Johnson’s latest outburst occurred during a conversation with former Conservative cabinet minister and Remainer Sir Robert Buckland, with one source close to Johnson describing it as a “jocular” exchange.
The conversation reportedly took place after Johnson had urged Sunak not to withdraw the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would give the Government the power to suspend the mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Buckland had suggested that a compromise on the Protocol could improve relations with Washington and Biden ahead of his planned visit in April to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Johnson’s response, according to the Daily Mail, was “f*** the Americans!”. However, a source close to Johnson claimed that the conversation had been misconstrued and was “cordial”.
Buckland also described it as a “cordial exchange” in which both men were seeking progress but had different ideas about how to achieve it.
Speaking on the matter, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle emphasised that the situation was no laughing matter for Northern Ireland, while Labour voiced concerns that the remark would not go down well with the UK’s closest allies.
Johnson declined to comment on whether he would support any deal brought back by Sunak to resolve the Protocol row, but insisted that the Northern Ireland Bill, which he had introduced during his time in office, was the best way forward.
The bill had been designed to fix issues with the Protocol, including giving control of VAT in Northern Ireland to Westminster rather than Brussels.
Johnson claimed the bill solved all the problems, including those relating to paperwork and VAT, without causing issues for the whole island of Ireland’s economy.