Ambassador Obama? UK Govt Denies Boris Johnson Blocked Former Prez as Envoy to London

/ AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Britain’s Foreign Office has denied reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally intervened to block Joe Biden from tapping former president Barack Obama to serve as America’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.

A report from the Sunday Express, citing sources within the British government, claimed that Boris Johnson blocked a potential Barack Obama ambassadorship over the ex-president’s opposition to Brexit.

“It’s absolutely true that the Government has privately objected to an Obama appointment. It’s also true that this is why there is a delay [in an ambassador being appointed],” a Whitehall source supposedly told the paper.

Another senior source added: “Obama is just unacceptable. The back of the queue comment alone makes him unacceptable.”

The paper also claimed that there were concerns that the former American president would overshadow the Prime Minister, with a source saying that Obama would “create a rival court in Britain to the court of Boris and Carrie”.

“You can imagine he will have an open door to former Remainers, opponents of the Government. Michelle [Obama] will carry on touring schools. It will be a rival focus to the government especially with question marks over the relationship between Biden and Boris.”

The Foreign Office has denied the claims, however, telling the Daily Mail that it was “categorically untrue” that Boris Johnson blocked Obama from becoming the ambassador to Britain.

“These reports are untrue. Questions on U.S. appointments are for the U.S.,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The alleged feud between Obama and Johnson stretches back to the 2016 EU referendum campaign, when then-President Obama took the unprecedented action of stepping into the domestic matter and threatening that the United Kingdom would go to the “back of the queue” in terms of trade if they voted to leave the bloc.

The tensions escalated after Mr Johnson, who was then serving as London mayor and a key Brexit campaigner, wrote an article claiming that Obama’s “part-Kenyan” heritage was a motivating factor for the American leader’s alleged dislike of the British Empire.

Johnson also noted at the time that President Obama removed the bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office of the White House upon his swearing-in.

The speculation over the British ambassadorship came amid months of delays from the Biden administration in putting forward a candidate to replace New York Jets owner and staunch Brexit supporter Woody Johnson, who served as President Trump’s ambassador to Britain from 2017 until this year.

According to a report from The Times, acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Philip Reeker has been tapped as a temporary appointment at the British embassy from August 1st until a permanent ambassador is appointed.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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