Boris Johnson accused of choosing ‘vodka and sunshine’ over leadership during Iran crisis

PUBLISHED: 16:41 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:41 05 January 2020

Andrew Marr (left) speaking with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA.

Andrew Marr (left) speaking with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA.

Emily Thornberry has accused the PM of ‘sunning himself drinking vodka martinis somewhere else and not paying attention’ to the crisis in the Middle East as it emerged he is still not back at work.

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Labour's shadow foreign secretary accused the government of doing "too little, too late" in comments on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

"We should take responsibility, we are international players - of course we have other preoccupations and clearly the prime minister has a lot of preoccupations, he's sunning himself drinking vodka martinis somewhere else and not paying attention to this," she told Ridge.

"We've had three Cobra meetings where Mark Sedwill, the chief civil servant, has had to chair it because the prime minister hasn't been available."

She accused Johnson of dismissing her concerns the president was ripping up the Iran nuclear deal when he was foreign secretary.

"I remember saying to Boris Johnson 'I'm really worried that the president is going to rip up the Iranian nuclear deal' and he said to me 'you should spend a bit less time reading the newspapers'," Ms Thornberry said.

Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier said Johnson "should have immediately cut short his holiday to deal with an issue that could have grave consequences for the UK and the world", while acting Lib Dem co-leader Sir Ed Davey said Johnson's "silence on Trump's dangerous assassination in Iraq is deafening".

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has insisted Boris Johnson is "in charge" and in "constant contact" despite being on holiday and not being in office until Monday.

He stayed silent while celebrating New Year on the private island of Mustique with partner Carrie Symonds.

Raab said he has been in "constant contact" with the PM and spoke to him on Friday over the escalating crisis triggered by US President Donald Trump's air strike in Iraq.

He told Sky: "The prime minister is in charge. In fact I've been in constant contact with him over the Christmas break on a whole range of foreign policy issues."

Raab said he had spoken to the Iraqi prime minister and president and will be speaking to Iran's foreign minister before meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday.

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