Michael Fallon on Boris Johnson’s Election

As Boris Johnson, often likened to President Donald Trump, wins his party’s vote to become the next British Prime Minister, former British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, a Johnson ally, joins the program to discuss what this means for the United Kingdom, and its relationship with Europe.

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MICHAEL FALLON, FORMER BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: Boris for eight years was mayor of London. One of the most ethnically diverse cities around and was very much social liberal in our terms, in our terms of the Conservative Party and was an early adopter of some of the (INAUDIBLE) legislation and so on. So, I don’t think he’s like your president in that respect. But yes, he’s populist and yes, he’s an optimist. And you heard that in his acceptance speech today. He is very much somebody who sees the best of Britain and thinks we can get through the challenge of Brexit and find a new role for ourselves in the world.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: I just want to pick you a little bit on this point and then perhaps you can put it to bed. You know, Boris Johnson has used words like pickaninnies to describe Africans, he’s talked about Muslim women in their traditional garb looking like letter boxes. I mean, he’s talked about Barack Obama, when he was president, having a historical ancestral dislike of Britain because he was born to a Kenyan father. Put to rest then these fears about Boris Johnson and these kinds of things he says.

FALLON: Well, I must be careful how I do that because Boris Johnson, of course, was a journalist. And saying that you, I’ve got to be careful. He was a colorful journalist. He’s been using for 20- or 30-years colorful language in his journalism. But that article, for example, on the rights of the women to wear the burqa, he was actually standing up for that right, if you read the article. He uses colorful phrases. He’s apologized all along in this campaign for anybody who might have been offended by his previous journalism. But that’s what he is. He was a journalist. That was his stock and trade.

AMANPOUR: You know, I hate, again, to pick you again because he was a journalist and he got fired for telling some lies about stories and misquoting people. And people have said, again, this is a very, very important time. As I quoted “The New York Times,” his relationship with the truth and with principle is somewhat sketchy. And, you know, the big emblazoned figure on the (INAUDIBLE) and the campaign was total nonsense. It wasn’t a true figure. It isn’t happening. What he said about Turks wanting to invade Britain was a nonsense. Very inflammatory. So, I guess I’m asking you this not just to pick at him but to know how he’s going to unite a country, how he is going to work with people and politicians from Europe and the rest to actually, you know, achieve something that this country needs, and that is a proper Brexit deal and a proper exit.

FALLON: Well, I’m in the going it get back over all the individual phrases that he used when he was a journalist. And during the referendum campaign, whether we should stay in the European union or not, there were claims and counterclaims made from both sides that probably didn’t stand up to excessive scrutiny, if you like. But I think the point about Boris Johnson is, he also has solid senior experience in public office. Running the City of London for two consecutive terms, for eight years, being foreign secretary for two years,

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour and Michael Fallon discuss Boris Johnson winning his party’s vote to become the next British Prime Minister. Mairead McGuinness joins the program to react to Johnson’s election. Amanpour speaks to Pat Toomey about his criticisms of President Trump. Alicia Menendez interviews Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, organizers of the Google Walk Out for Real Change.