Johnson brushes off questions about UK govt conflict

While the British Foreign Secretary is in New Zealand talking about about a more outwards looking Britain, he has also faced questions about internal political ructions back home.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee in Wellington.
Photo: Pool / Hagen Hopkins

Boris Johnson has been touring the Asia Pacific region, saying his country wants to rediscover relationships with countries like New Zealand as Britain starts to negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union.

Flanked by the Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee at a media conference at Parliament this morning, Mr Johnson said Brexit is not, was not and will not be about Britain turning away from the world.

“It is also about rediscovering and intensifying relationships around the world.”

But while Mr Johnson was busy reigniting international friendships, his Prime Minister Theresa May continued to be under pressure after a narrow win in June’s snap election.

A result he briefly alluded to:

“Let’s be clear – the election did not evolve entirely in the way the government had hoped for or would have wanted, okay, I’m going to put that out there.

“But the Labour Party did not win.”

Mrs May has said she wanted to stay in the job for the “next few years” to deliver the country’s exit from the EU.

A year on since taking over the job, she has admitted responsibility for failing to convey her vision for Britain.

Since last month’s snap election, several within her party have openly disagreed with government policy, apparent cabinet tensions over Brexit have spilled out in public and there have been reports of challenges to her position.

Mr Johnson was asked about internal conflict within his own party.

“I don’t want to sound in any way complacent but I’ve been travelling in Japan and now in beautiful New Zealand and any such activities completely passed me by… no-one has sent me news of any such infighting.”

When asked to rule out a tilt at the leadership, Mr Johnson dodged the question.

“What the British people want to see is us getting on the with the job.

“They see no vacancy, nor do they see any need for any more political kerfuffle.”

Mr Johnson has visited the Wellington wildlife sanctuary Zealandia as his final event while on his New Zealand visit.

He leaves this afternoon.

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