Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
I’m just back from the Number 10 lobby briefing. Asked about North Korea launching a missile over Japan, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said that Theresa May was “outraged by North Korea’s reckless provocation”.
The spokeswoman also said that May’s visit to Japan this week is still going ahead as planned and that the UK expects fresh sanctions against North Korea to be discussed at a United Nations security council meeting in New York tonight.
I’m just off to the Number 10 lobby briefing. I will post again after 11.30, when it’s over.
In the meantime, here is an extract from Rachel Sylvester’s column in the Times today (paywall). It’s five-star hatchet job on Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who is “rapidly becoming a national embarrassment”, Sylvester says.
Boris Johnson is becoming the Where’s Wally? of international diplomacy. All over the world the geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting yet at this time of huge global significance the foreign secretary is all but invisible on the international stage. On the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the crisis over Saudi Arabia and Qatar or the clash between the US and China, he is irrelevant. On Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Turkey and Yemen, he is incoherent. Occasionally he surfaces briefly, like a hostage paraded before the television cameras to prove he is still alive, as he did after a visit to Libya last week, but even then he is ineffective because he has ceded all influence to others.
As the US enters an extraordinary culture war under Donald Trump, Mr Johnson remains morally ambiguous, flip-flopping between dismissing criticisms of the president as a “whinge-o-rama” and claiming he got it “totally wrong” in his response to the recent racial violence in Charlottesville. He made a serious strategic error in aligning himself so quickly with a divisive populist across the Atlantic who no longer even has the support of his own Republican Party.