Boris Johnson stops short of condemning Trump over attacks on UK ambassador

British politician Boris Johnson, who is running to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, on Tuesday stopped short of condemning President Trump over his attacks on U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch.

Pressed repeatedly during a televised debate about whether it was right for Trump to assail Darroch in response to leaked memos in which the ambassador was critical of the president, Johnson replied that Trump had been “dragged into a British political debate.”

“I don’t necessarily think it was the right thing for him to do,” Johnson added.{mosads}

The former foreign minister and London mayor refused to say whether he would keep Darroch in his post, calling the question “presumptuous” and noting the ambassador is scheduled to retire by the end of the year.

Johnson said he has “a very good relationship with the White House,” something he said is critical for maintaining close ties between the U.S. and the U.K. 

Johnson’s response stood in contrast to his opponent, British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who called Trump’s comments “disrespectful” and pledged that if he is elected “our ambassador stays.”

As a staunch supporter of Brexit, Johnson has pledged to quickly broker a trade deal with the U.S. and has sought to curry favor with the Trump administration. Trump, in turn, has praised Johnson and said he would make an “excellent” prime minister.

Johnson’s comments came after Trump escalated his attacks on Darroch, calling him a “pompous fool” and “very stupid.”

The president has been incensed by the leaked cables, which showed that the ambassador described Trump as “inept” and questioned whether his presidency would end in disaster.

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