Theresa May attacks Boris Johnson for 'abandoning moral leadership'

January 19, 2021

Theresa May has launched an unusually fierce attack on Boris Johnson, accusing him of "abandoning" Britain's "moral leadership".

The former prime minister used Donald Trump's departure from the White House on Wednesday to warn that her successor has not "raised our credibility in the eyes of the world" with some policy decisions.

Targeting his threat to break international law over Brexit and move to cut foreign aid, she wrote in a column for the Daily Mail that "the world does not owe us a prominent place on its stage, whatever the rhetoric we deploy, it is our actions which count".

Mrs May, who navigated a difficult diplomatic tightrope with Mr Trump by clashing with him on occasion but being wary of damaging the UK-US "special relationship", also shed light on what it was like being a leader alongside him.

"I never knew what to expect - from being offered, sometimes literally, the hand of friendship to hearing him question core tenets of the transatlantic alliance," she said.

"When a British prime minister walks out for a joint press conference with the world's media unsure if the US president standing next to her will agree that NATO is a bulwark of our collective defence, you know you are living in extraordinary times."

Mrs May said it was clear Joe Biden, who will officially take office tomorrow at 5pm (12pm in Washington DC) when he and vice president-elect Kamala Harris are inaugurated, will be "a more predictable and reliable partner" for Britain.

She also accused Mr Trump of having "whipped up" a mob of supporters who forced their way into the Capitol building two weeks ago

"What happened in Washington was not the act of a lone extremist or a secretive cell, but an assault by a partisan mob whipped up by an elected president," Mrs May wrote.

"I know from experience that leaving power is not easy - especially when you feel that there is more you want to do.

"But anyone who has the honour of serving in such a position must always remember that the office is bigger than the individual.

"The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of any democracy; it is what makes us special."

Mrs May has largely kept out of the limelight since leaving Downing Street in July 2019, following her tearful resignation over the Brexit blockage.

But she has been unafraid to speak out on major issues where she clashes with Mr Johnson, who quit as her foreign secretary the previous summer - a serious blow to her leadership.

Since taking to the backbenches, she has been vocally critical about Mr Johson's threat to break international law, the new points-based immigration system following Brexit and the prime minister's appointment of his national security adviser.

Mrs May also faced complaints during her time in office that she was not critical enough of Mr Trump.

Number 10 has been contacted for comment.

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