Boris Johnson wouldn’t condemn Trump’s immigration order – but is happy to criticise him on trade

Racism is 'controversial' but protectionism is 'profoundly wrong'


We are sorry to report that, yet again, the Foreign Secretary has malfunctioned.

In his speech to the British Chamber of Commerce yesterday — or his ‘narcissistic breakdown’, as John Crace reasonably describes it — Johnson once again made a mockery of his department, devoting more time to tinned pineapple than to the realities of global commerce.

Amid the rantings, there was one decipherable message: globalisation and trade are good, protectionism is bad.

Leaving aside the obvious irony — that Johnson loudly campaigned to leave the world’s largest free trade bloc — his comments were clearly targeted at those international figures who advocate a retreat into protectionism and economic insularity. And the leader of that pack is, of course, Donald Trump.

‘As everybody knows and has been endlessly discussed, we are seeing a series of related but by no means identical political events, in which populations are said to be rebelling, against what had been seen as a settled consensus,’ Johnson said.

“And people feel that they aren’t getting a fair suck of the sauce bottle, as they say in Australia, the wealth gap is growing. And so there’s been a temptation amongst some politicians to respond in what I think is the wrong way, by hauling up the drawbridge and to call time on globalisation. And I think that instinct is profoundly wrong and it makes no economic sense as I’m sure everybody in this room today understands.”

This is an interesting shift in tone from Johnson who, up to now, has been extremely reluctant to criticise Trump publicly. He was perfectly happy to meet with the president’s neo-fascist senior adviser Steve Bannon.

On the immigration order, Johnson would go no further than saying that it was ‘controversial’ and ‘not an approach that [the British government’ would take.’

So, according to Johnson, Trump’s racist immigration policy is ‘not what we would do’, but his protectionist economic policy is ‘profoundly wrong’.

The government has clearly picked its battles — and decided that trade trumps rights.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

See: Brexit is no ‘liberation’: Boris gets schooled on European history by a Swedish MEP

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