Wednesday 21 August 2019

'Why isn't he called Murphy like the rest of them?' - Johnson's alleged remark on Varadkar

‘Depressing’: Labour peer Andrew Adonis said Boris Johnson was ‘profoundly unsuitable’ to lead UK during his visit to Dublin. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson
‘Depressing’: Labour peer Andrew Adonis said Boris Johnson was ‘profoundly unsuitable’ to lead UK during his visit to Dublin. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Cormac McQuinn and Kevin Doyle

Another controversy has erupted after Boris Johnson - who looks set to become British prime minister next week - allegedly made remarks asking why the Taoiseach "isn't called Murphy like all the rest of them".

The comments about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are said to have been made while Mr Johnson was foreign secretary and are among a series of insults about other EU leaders. Yesterday, UK Labour peer Andrew Adonis said the comments are "deeply depressing" and argued they make Mr Johnson "profoundly unsuitable" to get the keys of 10 Downing Street.

The comments were revealed by 'Financial Times' journalist Philip Stephens who wrote that "such jibes find a way back to foreign capitals".

The article claimed that while he was at the Foreign Office, Mr Johnson was "heard to muse as to whether Chancellor Angela Merkel had served in East Germany's Stasi secret police".

It added that "French President Emmanuel Macron was a 'jumped-up Napoleon'," and "As for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, 'why isn't he called Murphy like all the rest of them?'"

Mr Johnson has a well-documented history of off-colour or controversial remarks. He was criticised last year for saying Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes" and he reportedly described the French as "turds".

Mr Adonis is an ardent opponent of Brexit and he believes it can still be stopped, despite Mr Johnson's vow to lead Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

He addressed the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin yesterday where he claimed Mr Johnson is a "chancer" who is "perfectly capable of eating his words at two minutes' notice" as the Brexit deadline looms.

On Mr Johnson's reported remarks about the Taoiseach, he said it is "deeply depressing" that the likely next prime minister would say "things of this kind about friends and allies". He said he couldn't vouch for the authenticity of the comments but noted that the 'Financial Times' is a "very reputable newspaper so I assume they have it on good authority".

He added: "These kinds of remarks are absolutely in character and they're part of the reason that many of us believe that Boris Johnson is profoundly unsuitable to be prime minister."

Mr Adonis claimed that it would be gaffes like these that will ultimately lead to the "implosion" of Mr Johnson's government.

Mr Johnson did not respond to attempts to contact him for comment last night.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond was diplomatic in his response to Mr Johnson's alleged remarks last night.

He said Irish officials need to focus on developing a good relationship with the next prime minister in order to avoid a disorderly Brexit.

"Regardless of who is prime minister over the next few weeks - Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt or Jeremy Corbyn - we'll have to work closely as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

Irish Independent

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