Foreign Secretary Confirms Appointment of New Ambassador to Mali

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed the appointment of Cat Smith as the new Ambassador to Mali. She will begin her new role in April 2018 and she replaces Alice Walpole. Smith was previously the Deputy Head of Mission in Addis Abada, a role she has held since 2015. In addition to her new role, Smith will also be the non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of Niger.

Boris Johnson Calls for United Global Response to Salisbury Attack

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has called for a global response following the Salisbury attack, which the Government has attributed to the Russians.

Johnson said in a statement:

“While we await an explanation from Russia of how a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia came to be used in the UK, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has today been calling his counterparts and leaders of international organisations to set out what we know and our concerns that, if as we suspect is highly likely the Russian state was responsible, this would be further reckless behaviour which threatens the international community and requires an international response.

The Foreign Secretary has emphasised that if this was a direct act by the Russian state then it would not simply be a threat to the UK, but a clear violation of the chemical weapons convention, a breach of international law and a threat to those who abide by the rules-based international order as a whole.

The French Foreign Minister Le Drian offered France’s total solidarity for an unacceptable act, and noted that President Macron had promised to stand by the UK as it prepares to take concrete measures against Russia’s breach of international order. The French government stressed particular concerns about Russia’s use of chemical weapons elsewhere, as is evident with their support to Asad’s murderous regime in Syria.

In speaking to the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the Foreign Secretary emphasised how countering Russian disinformation, halting Russia’s adventurism in the western Balkans and reducing Russia’s ongoing involvement in Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis were issues of paramount importance to Germany and the UK alike.

Speaking to the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the Foreign Secretary reiterated the importance of NATO standing together to counter the threat Russia poses not just to the UK, but to our NATO allies also. He was pleased that the NATO Secretary General expressed his support and solidarity, and agreed that NATO unity was paramount, as it was to counter other existing threats to NATO partners, including in eastern Europe where UK troops are stationed alongside troops from various Allies. They both agreed that Russian actions repeatedly threaten the security of NATO partners – from the Baltics, Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia – and NATO must stand as an alliance to call out Putin’s behaviour. The UK will brief the North Atlantic Council at tomorrow’s session”.

Foreign Secretary Criticises Recent Russian Involvement in Syria

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has criticised recent Russian involvement in Syria and called on them to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2401.

In a statement he said:

“I am deeply concerned by the continued military campaign against the civilians of Eastern Ghouta and credible reports that Russian aircraft are actively participating alongside the Asad regime, contrary to the Security Council’s demand in UNSCR 2401 for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. The areas suffering from bombardments are civilian populated areas.

There are reports of a death toll of more than 600 civilians in the last two weeks, including 200 airstrikes and over 100 killed since Russia voted in favour of the ceasefire. All this in an area that, lest we forget, Russia itself announced as a de-escalation zone through the Astana Process.

The main Opposition armed groups on the ground are involved in the UN-led Geneva process and Russia’s own Astana process and have clearly committed to full implementation of the UNSCR. These groups are not terrorists – they support a negotiated political solution to the crisis in Syria. Having voted for UNSCR 2401 less than a week ago, Russia has a responsibility to ensure implementation of the ceasefire.

The people of Eastern Ghouta have endured enough, among broken promises of ceasefires and humanitarian pauses. We demand that Russia and the regime cease hostilities immediately and ensure the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta and medical evacuations, as called for by the UN Human Rights Council this morning in a UK-proposed Resolution. The people of Eastern Ghouta can wait no longer”.

Foreign Secretary Confirms Appointment of New Ambassador to Yemen

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed the appointment of Michael Aron as the new Ambassador to Yemen. He will begin his new role immediately and he replaces Simon Shercliff, who has been appointed Director of National Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Aron was previously Her Majesty’s Ambassador in the Sudan.

Johnson said in a statement:

“The UK is working tirelessly to support the people of Yemen through these difficult times in their history. We are clear that a political solution to the conflict and an end to the humanitarian suffering is the only way forward if we are to see the stable and prosperous future that the people of Yemen deserve.

Michael has extensive experience serving the UK as ambassador, most recently to Sudan and Libya. I look forward to working together with him to help establish a peaceful and stable future for Yemen”.

Foreign Secretary Calls for End to Violence in Eastern Ghouta

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has called for an end to violence in Eastern Ghouta. His comments come following a series of air and artillery raids on the area, with over four hundred people thought to have died so far in the attacks.

Johnson said in a statement:

“I am utterly appalled by the brutal and merciless violence that the Asad regime is inflicting on the people of Eastern Ghouta. They are enduring a hell entirely of the making of Asad and his enablers.

Today in the UN Security Council, the UK will press Russia to support a ceasefire to allow for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid. Protecting Syrians and getting them the lifesaving aid they need must be paramount. The UK is committed to working closely with all international partners to secure an end to the terrible bloodshed and make progress towards a political solution, which is the only way to bring peace to the people of Syria”.

Boris Johnson Makes Controversial Speech on Brexit

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has launched an attack on the European Union in a keynote speech on Brexit. Johnson criticised the negative manner in which Brexit was being cast and said that it could be a “national success”.

Johnson said in the speech:

“If we get the right deal on aviation and on visa-free travel – both of which are in our mutual interest – this expansion of UK tourism will continue, not just beyond the EU, but within the EU itself; and we will continue to go on cheapo flights to stag parties in ancient cities where we will, I’m sure, receive a warm welcome and meet interesting people, fall in love, struggle amiably to learn the European languages – knowledge of which, by the way, has suffered a paradoxical decline during our membership of the EU”.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, said in a statement:

“This speech underlined the Government’s real intentions; a Brexit of deregulation, where rights and protections are casually cast aside and where the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union are ignored. Nobody will be fooled or reassured by the Foreign Secretary’s empty rhetoric. His insistence on deregulating our economy is the opposite of what businesses and trade unions want to hear. Instead of building the consensus we need, the Government’s approach will only further divide the country and put jobs, rights and living standards at risk”.

Tom Brake, the Brexit spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said:

“If this speech was supposed to offer an olive branch to Remainers, Boris must have picked up the other version. A clear majority of Remain and Leave voters oppose the damaging hard Brexit Boris so vigorously advocates. They do not want job cuts triggered by tougher trading conditions with our largest export market or life-threatening uncertainty at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Boris’s antipathy towards the common rules and standards which apply within the EU, and to trade within the EU, is in stark contrast to Brexiters head-long rush to adopt common standards with the US which would require the UK to accept chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-fed beef, GMO products and potentially open up the NHS to US private health companies.

If Boris is seeking to establish himself as the standard bearer of liberalism, he should dump plans to come out of the Single Market and Customs Union and campaign to stay in the world’s largest free trade area. He could also bolster his liberal credentials by giving people a vote on the deal and an exit from Brexit”.

Government to Honour Eight Holocaust Heroes

The Government has honoured eight Holocaust heroes at an event organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in conjunction with the Israeli Embassy. The award is given to those who made a contribution to those who needed help during the Second World War to help the Jewish people and others who were suffering the effects of Nazi hate.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said:

“The moral conviction and bravery of the British Heroes of the Holocaust should fill us with pride. These exceptional individuals saved hundreds of lives and went above and beyond the call of duty in the most difficult circumstances to do the right thing. As a government we are committed to ensuring that society learns the lessons of the Holocaust so that bigotry and prejudice are given no place to take root”.

The eight individuals honoured are John Carvell, Sir Thomas Preston, Doreen Warriner, Trevor Chadwick, Dorothea Weber, Margaret Reid, Sir George Ogilvie-Forbes and Otto Schiff.

Foreign Secretary Meets US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has today met with Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, to discuss a number of international issues including Yemen, Syria and Iran.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Secretary said:

“During their meeting, which took place at the Foreign Secretary’s official London residence in Carlton Gardens, the two ministers discussed a full range of bilateral and international issues, underscoring the strength of the UK/US relationship. Today’s meeting followed on from Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Secretary Johnson’s meeting in Vancouver last week.

On Iran, they reflected on recent developments and discussed the UK and US’s respective views on the Iran nuclear deal. The Foreign Secretary emphasised that the UK believes the Iran nuclear deal is working, and that the UK would work closely with US, European and international partners to tackle Iran’s disruptive behaviour in the region.

On Syria, the Foreign Secretary expressed his support for Secretary Tillerson’s recent speech on the Syrian crisis. The Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary discussed how to move towards a political process that would lead to the end of the Asad regime.

On Yemen, they agreed on the importance of moving forward towards a political solution that would end the humanitarian suffering.

The Foreign Secretary and Secretary Tillerson will meet again in Paris tomorrow for discussions on Syria and Yemen with their European and Middle Eastern counterparts”.

Tillerson said:

“We treasure this relationship, and I treasure Boris’s relationship with me personally and the work that we do together on these many issues. Sometimes we forget about the importance of our own relationship, and we need to pay attention to that relationship and the importance of this relationship on a bilateral basis as well”.

Labour Report the Foreign Secretary to the UK Statistics Authority

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, has said that he has written to the UK Statistics Authority to question comments made by Boris Johnson relating to Brexit. Starmer said that the Foreign Secretary has made false claims regarding the UK’s financial contribution to the European Union.

Starmer’s letter reads:

“I am writing to seek clarification on comments made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday [15 January] about the UK’s financial contribution to the European Union (EU).

In an interview with The Guardian the Foreign Secretary said: “There was an error on the side of the [Vote Leave] bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control.”

The newspaper reports that “Johnson argued that the UK’s EU contribution was already up to £362m per week for 2017-18 and would rise annually to £410m, £431m, and then to £438m by 2020-21 – ‘theoretically the last year of the transition period.’”

The £350m a week claim made by the Vote Leave campaign has been widely condemned as inaccurate and misleading. For example, in September of last year the Statistics Authority wrote to the Foreign Secretary saying, “it is a clear misuse of official statistics.” And yet, Mr Johnson has chosen to repeat this statement and expand on the claim even further. I do not believe this to be acceptable.

I would therefore be grateful if you could make a statement on the accuracy of the Foreign Secretary’s most recent comments”.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister rejected the claims and said:

“Does the amount of money which we send to the EU fluctuate? And the answer is, yes it does. Some years it is bigger, some years it is smaller. Those figures are published on the OBR website. The PM has said that once we leave the EU we will have significant sums of money which we will choose how that money is spent, and we can spend that on our priority areas”.