The debacle in Moscow is just the latest incident in which he has humiliated both the government and the people.
But while Myanmar, Libya and Iran caused significant embarrassment, Russia is a world superpower and the repercussions of Mr Johnson’s foolishness may cause crippling harm to our nation’s status on the international stage.
He just doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, or what to say when required to speak – and those are the main requirements of a diplomat.
So, before travelling to Russia, Mr Johnson deemed it a good idea to criticise that country publicly over the war in the Ukraine, its alleged cyber attacks on the West, Syria and the annexation of the Crimea.
He made a great show of declaring that the UK is “prepared and able” to launch retaliatory cyber attacks, if hackers continued to target Western power stations and communication networks, subvert elections and spread fake news. Let us hope he had all the evidence he needed to prove his claims if necessary!
The fact that he tried to embarrass Russia publicly is a sign of weakness, not of strength.
Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov was right to admonish Mr Johnson, saying the differences between our countries should be aired privately, rather than at press conferences.
Intelligent diplomacy would have involved exactly that. Ideally, the UK would be in a position to offer Russia a reason not to cause mischief – preferably an incentive, showing that it would be to Russia’s advantage. The next best thing would be to demonstrate that Russia would be put at a disadvantage if it continued.
The worst possible choice is to make a public display of claims that the UK personally would cause intentional harm to the Russian state, if provoked into doing so.
That implies that we aren’t all friends, when – for appearances’ sake, if nothing else – we should at least pretend to be one big, happy, international family.
It also offers third parties an opportunity to cause mischief of their own, by stirring up aggravation between the UK and Russia.
Boris Johnson should have known that.
After the incompetence of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe catastrophe, senior Foreign Office officials – not to mention Theresa May, if she was fit to be prime minister – should have sat Mr Johnson down and explained that he has a duty to hold his mouth in check, and that there are penalties for failing to do so.
Up until now, those penalties may have been borne by UK citizens, rather than the state or representatives like Mr Johnson, but that may change, now that Mr Johnson has annoyed Russia.
I would say the UK will need to be prepared for an escalation of hostilities – at least on a covert level.
But Mr Johnson’s public outburst makes it seem abundantly clear that, when it comes to our defence, his government has nothing.
We had better hope that I am mistaken.
As for Mr Johnson himself: He has critically compromised the UK’s relationship with a major foreign power.
When he arrives back in the UK, Mrs May should give him the same treatment she offered Priti Patel – another Cabinet minister who thought she could do whatever she pleased without consequence.
But we all know Theresa May is far, far too weak for that. It’s why she needs to offer her resignation as well.
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