- Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has been conducting “extremely useful” unofficial diplomacy with the Chinese, according to reports accidentally sent to the BBC.
- Stanley Johnson met with Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming on Tuesday to discuss the two countries’ response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the BBC reported.
- The prime minister’s father, who is known to be prone to gaffes, accidentally copied a BBC journalist into his email reporting back about the meeting to a British lord, who praised his efforts.
- The involvement of a family member in government business has drawn yet another comparison between Boris Johnson’s leadership style and US President Donald Trump’s playbook.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has met with the Chinese ambassador to the UK and discussed the two countries’ response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the BBC.
A staunch environmental campaigner, Stanley Johnson was invited to discuss the upcoming climate change summits, in a meeting reportedly 90 minutes long.
However, he also reported back that ambassador Liu Xiaoming was worried about Boris Johnson’s apparent lack of contact with the Chinese premier about the coronavirus.
He passed this message on in an email to a British lord, Lord Goldsmith, who wrote back thanking Stanley for his “extremely useful” intervention.
Johnson senior, however, accidentally copied a BBC journalist into the exchange.
In his message, Stanley revealed: “Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet — so he asserted — been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call.”
Ambassador Liu also tweeted several photographs from his meeting with Stanley, describing the conversations both about climate change and the coronavirus.
“Thank you Mr. Stanley Johnson for expressing your sympathy and support to the Chinese people who are fighting the novel coronavirus. With the support of British friends, we have the confidence and capability to beat the virus!”
—Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) February 5, 2020
The UK government has denied that Stanley was acting on its behalf, and told the BBC that the UK has been in close contact with Chinese authorities over the deadly viral outbreak.
It added in a statement to the BBC that both Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the national security advisor have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts.
Johnson channels Trump by using his family for diplomacy
The involvement of family members in what would otherwise be government or civil service work adds to the comparisons being made between the leadership styles of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.
Trump has frequently engaged his family members in both official and unofficial diplomatic and political work.
Kushner was the architect of Trump’s widely criticized Middle East “peace plan,” which was released in January.
Business Insider’s Adam Payne and Adam Bienkov reported on Wednesday that Johnson has taken a Trump-style hard line on the freedom of the press, excluding selected journalists from high-level briefings and prompting a full-scale walkout of journalists.
A history of embarrassing missteps from dad
Johnson senior’s email gaffe is one of a string of moments that have embarrassed his son.
During the 2019 general election campaign, Stanley bizarrely claimed on a BBC TV panel that British voters don’t have the “degree of literacy” to know who Pinocchio is.
He had been responding to a viewer comment which suggested that Boris Johnson is as prone to lying as Pinocchio.
“That would require a degree of literacy which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have,” he said, adding: “They couldn’t spell Pinocchio if they tried,” after being challenged by the host.
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