Friday 23 August 2019

'No 10 needs to learn how to handle blond bombshell Boris' - Thatcher's press secretary

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Chris Moncrieff

The Prime Minister and her "uppity" staff must learn there are gentler ways of dealing with wayward ministers like "blond bombshell" Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, than merely slapping them down according to Margaret Thatcher's press secretary.

Mr Johnson was recently rebuked publicly by Number 10 for taking Iran and Saudi Arabia to task over the Yemeni civil war.

Sir Bernard Ingham, who was Margaret Thatcher's press secretary, said: "That has needed saying for too long. It is about time more senior statesman began to try to get Iran and Saudi Arabia to face up to their responsibilities.

"Just because they are rolling in oil does not mean we should not tell them where to get off."

He added: "No 10 needs to learn how better to handle the blond bombshell. Mrs May - and certainly her apparatchiks - are acquiring an early reputation for slapping down wayward ministers when there are gentler ways of coping with their deviation from the straight and narrow.

"Perhaps Johnson has for too long led a relatively carefree existence as a journalist, backbencher and Mayor of London - not to mention campaigning for the Tory leadership - to hold himself in check in central government.

"If so, he had better soon accept he is now only a cog - though a big one - in a wider machine. Otherwise, things could get awkward."

Sir Bernard, writing in the Yorkshire Post, describing Mr Johnson as "our unforgettable Foreign Secretary", said: "He is undoubtedly an intelligent and learned man. His - and Theresa May's - problem is his DNA.

"He is over-endowed with the flamboyant thespian gene and under-supplied with that which promotes restraint. He cannot help making waves."

Sir Bernard added: "Mrs May takes life seriously but she and her uppity staff need not always show it. The public does not like to see a government in an edgy state within itself."

He said the Prime Minister should calm down "and Boris should remember that timing and tact are all - both at home and abroad. It is called diplomacy".

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