July 9, 2019 / 8:03 PM / 9 days ago

Johnson declines to back UK envoy to Washington over Trump row

Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, attends Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate at MediaCityUK in Salford, Britain July 9, 2019. Matt Frost/ITV/Handout via REUTERS

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Boris Johnson, the leading contender to become Britain’s prime minister, declined to say whether he would keep the country’s ambassador to Washington in his job after the envoy was criticised publicly by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has given her full support to Washington envoy Kim Darroch after he described Trump’s administration as “dysfunctional” and “inept” in memos that were leaked to a British newspaper on Sunday.

Asked if he would keep Darroch in his job if he becomes prime minister, Johnson said: “I’m not going to be so presumptuous as to think I’m going to be in a position (to do that)”.

He then said Trump had been dragged into a British political row. “I don’t think it was necessarily the right thing for him to do,” he said in an ITV television debate. “But let’s face it, our relationship with the U.S. is of fantastic importance.

“I have a very good relationship with the White House. It’s very important that we should have a close friendship, a close partnership with the United States.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; writing by Kate Holton; editing by William Schomberg

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