Boris Johnson's claims of Saudi Arabia 'puppeteering' rejected by Theresa May

Boris Johnson 'slapped down' by Downing Street over Saudi Arabia 'proxy war' claims

Boris Johnson

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Downing Street has distanced itself from Boris Johnson's claims Saudi Arabia has been "playing proxy wars" in the Middle East.

Footage published by The Guardian shows the Foreign Secretary, speaking at the Med2 conference in Rome last week, lumping Saudi Arabia in with Iran in a speech about "puppeteering" in the region.

He said: "There are politicians twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion to further their own political objectives. That's one of the biggest political problems in the region.

"The tragedy for me is that there isn't strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.

"That's why you've got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in and puppeteering and playing proxy wars."

Theresa May's official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister had "full confidence" in Mr Johnson, but made it clear his comments were not Government policy, but his personal opinion.

"Those are the Foreign Secretary's views," the spokeswoman said. "They are not the Government's position on Saudi Arabia and its role in the region.

"He will be in Saudi Arabia on Sunday and will have the opportunity to set out the way the UK sees its relationship with Saudi and the work we want to do with them and other partners to bring an end to the appalling conflict in Yemen.

"We are allies with Saudi Arabia and support them in their efforts to secure their borders and protect their people. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong and misinterpreting the facts."