Boris Johnson, the new British foreign secretary, today (28 July) met his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, the man who branded him a “liar with his back to the wall” after the referendum campaign on the UK’s membership of the EU.
The two men enjoyed a “warm two hour working lunch” in Paris, Johnson said on Twitter, despite Ayrault’s furious response to the Brexiteer’s appointment in July.
At a press conference, Johnson said in French, “Even if the UK has voted to quit the European Union, we will not quit Europe.
“We wish to remain as close as possible to our European allies, and most particularly France.”
Ayrault said France respected the British vote. “Now the consequences will have to be drawn in terms of organisation, in a co-ordinated way, efficiently, professionally, sincerely and fairly,” he said.
“Britain would need to define its negotiating position,” he added.
The two men discussed the vote to leave the bloc, the fight against terrorism, Channel border controls, and Syria during the meeting.
Neither Johnson nor Ayrault took any questions at the press conference – perhaps to avoid questions about whether there was any bad blood over the liar comments.
Boris Johnson & Ayrault not taking any questions from press – scared or something ? https://t.co/p5i8buHhTj
— AnneSylvaineChassany (@ChassNews) July 28, 2016
The decision could have been influenced by the embarrassing spectacle of Johnson’s press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
He was questioned again and again by reporters over remarks he had made about US presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.
He was also asked about a column he wrote during the referendum which suggested President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, had an “ancestral dislike” of Britain.