Senior Merkel ally questions Boris Johnson’s suitability to become UK prime minister

A senior ally of Angela Merkel has questioned Boris Johnson’s suitability to become prime minister, warning that he cannot be trusted.

Elmar Brok, a senior MEP from the Chancellor’s CDU party, said he knew and liked Mr Johnson personally but that he had his doubts about his suitability for high office.

“I have fun with him. We’ve had many cigars and whisky in our lives together,” he said in an interview with parliament’s The House magazine.

“As someone who was a journalist here, who was not very often very close to the truth when he was at the Daily Telegraph, when he invented stories – he has not changed.”

He added: “It’s fun to talk to him – it’s really fun to talk to him, intellectual fun. But to run a country?”

Mr Johnson was based in Brussels in the late 1990s, where he developed a reputation for inventing stories and exaggerating the truth.

Mr Brok, a German conservative, was the longest serving MEP until he stood down in last month’s election. He added that Brexit was a “purely English question”, and an “Eton boys’ game”. 

The MEP, who sits in the European Parliament’s Brexit committee until next month, however said it would be a “big surprise” if Mr Johnson did not become prime minister.

In the same interview, he predicted that the UK would struggle to thrive as an independent country and would ask to re-join the EU within a decade.

“Many people believe that England is a world power… what is Britain alone compared to the United States, China, Russia or India?” he said.

“It is an island in the northern Sea. I would say the same thing about Germany, but Germany is bigger and economically more successful,” he said.

“We will see. In a few years’ time, Britain will be back… At least in ten years’ time, [they will] ask for membership”.

Mr Johnson is the runaway favourite to become the next prime minister, with all polls showing him in the lead in the ongoing Tory leadership contest to replace Theresa May.

The winner of the contest will be announced on 23 July after a ballot of the Tories’ remaining membership.