British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has accused Saudi Arabia of “twisting” Islam and using proxies to fight its battles in the Middle East. This seems to have upset Prime Minster Theresa May and senior government officials, who view Riyadh as a close ally.
Johnson was reprimanded by Downing Street over his comments about Saudi Arabia, with Number 10 saying his views did not represent the official government policy.
Johnson said that the Saudis were “puppeteering and playing proxy wars” in the Middle East. His words caused a fierce reaction among his own government, with May’s official spokesperson saying that the foreign secretary’s comments about the activities of the Saudis were his own view.
Many observers found this to a bizarre statement, as the foreign secretary’s job is to represent the government’s foreign policy. Naturally, the whole affair has caused some confusion, with Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accusing the government of hypocrisy.
MP backers of MJohnson said that he was “furious” at repeated attacks by May and her allies. Gavin Barwell, a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, appeared to break ranks with May, saying that it was Johnson’s “job to set out the concerns that we have” and that “it’s perfectly right that we should raise these issues”. Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP for Totnes, tweeted her support for Johnson.
So why is telling the truth such a controversial act? Has the UK become so desperate for petroleum dollars that it cannot tolerate revelations about what everyone knows?