The problem with Boris Johnson's Saudi comments

Boris Johnson Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs May's official spokeswoman came down on Mr Johnson like a tonne of black-edged Downing Street bricks

It is Boris Johnson's fate that even when he is right he is wrong.

Few would disagree with the foreign secretary when he says that Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaging in proxy wars in the Middle East.

Not everyone would use his language, accusing both countries of "puppeteering", but it is well known that both Riyadh and Tehran support opposing sides in several conflicts.

In Syria, the Saudis are providing arms to opposition rebels and Iran is supporting some of the many militias fighting alongside the Syrian army.

In Yemen, the Saudis lead a coalition of forces fighting the Houthi rebels who ousted the government and are being backed by Iran.

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What the Farage ambassador row could mean for UK-US relations

  • 22 November 2016
  • From the section UK
The UK and US flags Image copyright Getty Images

At Number 3100 Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, high enough up the hill to catch a breeze in this most airless of cities, lies a small corner of a foreign field that in theory is forever England.

For it is here that one finds the British embassy and one of the finest ambassador's residences in the world.

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Defining a role for Boris

  • 17 November 2016
  • From the section Europe
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Image copyright AP

Boris Johnson is one of those few politicians whose notoriety gives their utterances a wider audience than Westminster.

It is why he was such an effective advocate for Leave during the referendum. And it is why the prime minister will use him to sell the Brexit deal when eventually it is struck.

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What kind of relationship will Trump have with the UK?

  • 15 November 2016
  • From the section World
Donald Trump looks to the flag after he addressed supporters Image copyright Getty Images

In the arc of history, Britain has rarely flourished when it has had to choose between Europe and the United States.

The greatest foreign policy disasters have tended to come when the UK has either ignored America - such as when it joined France in invading Suez - or when it has followed the US too blindly, as in the invasion of Iraq, against the warnings of many in Europe.

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What will Trump's foreign policy look like?

Donald Trump holding the flag of the USA Image copyright Reuters

So what now? The election of Donald Trump presents Britain with many challenges and some opportunities.

The president-elect is the son of a Scot, he owns property and golf courses north of the border, and says nice things about Britain when he visits. "Britain's been a great ally," he said in May. "With me, they'll always be treated fantastically."

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Can Theresa May resist temptation to mock Boris?

Theresa May and Boris Johnson Image copyright PA
Image caption The prime minister has publicly mocked her foreign secretary before

Theresa May is going to have to start taking Boris Johnson seriously if she wants the world to do likewise.

Last night I sat on the same table as the foreign secretary at the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards. He was given a gong for "comeback of the year" after his failed leadership bid propelled him into King Charles Street.

Read full article Can Theresa May resist temptation to mock Boris?

Priti Patel walks UK aid budget tightrope

Priti Patel in Kenya

Priti Patel is standing in the control tower of Mombasa port on the east coast of Kenya. Outside the windows she has a bird's eye view of the sprawling seaway, gateway for much of east Africa's trade.

And the international development secretary is doing something that belies her reputation: she is nodding approvingly as she hears how British taxpayers' money is being spent helping a foreign country boost its economy.

Read full article Priti Patel walks UK aid budget tightrope

UN secretary general: The hardest job in the world?

  • 5 October 2016
  • From the section Europe
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres arrives for a visit at the Midyat refugee camp in Mardin, south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, on 20 June 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Antonio Guterres will become the next UN secretary general in early 2017

The United Nations, in the words of one diplomat I spoke to, is "broken and disheartened". So the task for the next Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is to mend the organisation and give it some heart.

The outgoing incumbent, Ban Ki-moon, has been praised for his soft-spoken persistence in persuading the international community to do more on climate change.

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G20: Theresa May navigates changing UK role on international stage

Teresa May Image copyright Getty Images

As first days go at an international school, the G20 passed off alright for the new pupil.

Theresa May met all the right people, the language differences did not trouble her and she refused to allow the big boys to bully her behind the bike sheds. The prime minister held her own.

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G20: Is Theresa May changing the language of Brexit?

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

George Orwell said that political language consists largely of "euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness".

The same could be said about the post-referendum debate. The phrase "Brexit means Brexit" has seen the government through the summer, but has now reached the end of its usefulness.

Read full article G20: Is Theresa May changing the language of Brexit?