‘Cripes, oops, and yarooh!’ the Foreign Secretary of the UK might have ejaculated after being accused of using tax payer’s money to promote his book on Winston Churchill whilst on an official visit to Serbia. But no. Boris Johnson, for it was he, did no such thing according to an FCO spokesman.
Mr. Johnson signed copies of his biography of Churchill at a bookstore in Belgrade whilst discussing it with a small group of people on day two of his trip to the Serbian capital. However, it was “absolutely not a promotional event”. Indeed, the ever-diligent Foreign Office had specifically asked for his visit to the oldest bookshop in the city not to be about his book.
However, an in-depth investigation by the W&Y, consisting of a 30 second internet search, reveals that the Tanjug news agency had been in contact with the British Embassy. It published an article on November 4th saying that as well as meeting the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Mr. Johnson was also “expected to take part in a discussion about his book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, which has also been published in Serbia.” Mr. Johnson did just that on November 12th.
So, it would appear that despite having staff dedicated to trawling all Serbian media outlets for what they are saying about the UK, during the 8 days between this article and the visit, somehow this version of the itinerary was not relayed back to King Charles St in London. Nor, when the advance party had a quick look at where the Foreign Secretary might go, did anyone note the large cut out cardboard figure of Mr. Churchill in the bookshop, and the pile of books written by one Mr. B Johnson.
Alternatively, all this was noticed, but no-one did anything about it. Which was it? I think we should be told.