Boris Johnson dodges questions on US ambassador staying in office

Boris Johnson inthe studio for the ITV debate with Jeremy Hunt | Matt Frost/ITV via Getty Images

Boris Johnson dodges questions on US ambassador staying in office

Front-runner to become UK prime minister refuses to say whether Kim Darroch should finish his term.


7/9/19, 11:47 PM CET

Updated 7/10/19, 5:08 AM CET

LONDON — Boris Johnson, the front-runner to become the U.K.’s next prime minister, repeatedly refused to say Tuesday whether he would keep the British ambassador to the U.S. in office if he wins the top job later this month.

Speaking during the first one-on-one debate of the Conservative leadership contest, Johnson defended Donald Trump, who has attacked both the ambassador, Kim Darroch, and outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May in the past 24 hours, over leaked diplomatic cables critical of the U.S. president’s administration.

While acknowledging that personally criticizing Darroch was not “the right thing for him to do,” Johnson insisted Trump had been “dragged into a British political debate” and refused to say whether he would be happy to see Darroch serve the rest of his term, which is expected to end in January 2020.

“I’m not going to be so presumptuous,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s opponent, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, repeated an earlier condemnation of Trump, saying his comments about May were “unacceptable.” Among other criticisms, Trump said May’s approach to Brexit had been “foolish.” Hunt said that if he became prime minister, Darroch would serve until the end of this term.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt go head to head on British TV | Matt Frost/ITV via Getty Images

Johnson remains the favored candidate among the 160,000 Conservative members who will decide the next leader,

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