White House spokesman Josh Earnest indirectly compared new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to Israeli envoy Ron Dermer when asked if the US administration would be able to work with someone who has been vocally critical of Obama.
“I got questions of this variety when Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced that Ambassador Dermer would be the Israeli envoy to the United States. What I said in that situation is what I’ll say here,” Earnest said.
Earnest then went on to highlight the fact that the US and UK’s special relationship “transcends any single personality.”
“The decision we will make is to seek to deepen and strengthen our special relationship with the UK, regardless of who serves in a position as prominent as foreign minister,” he said.
Ex-London mayor Johnson, who led the successful Brexit campaign for Britain to leave the EU but is also an eccentric figure known for his gaffes and buffoonery, was chosen Wednesday by Theresa May as the top diplomat. Among other outspoken remarks, he has referred to Obama as the “part-Kenyan President [with an] ancestral dislike of the British Empire,” and compared Hillary Clinton to “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”
Dermer has also been known to be critical of Obama and the White House, though with considerably less colorful language.
Earnest also said Obama had called to congratulate new British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“The president certainly looks forward to working with Prime Minister May in the six months he has remaining in office,” Earnest said.