Lord Ricketts, a former National Security Adviser and UK ambassador, told Sky News that the Prime Minister’s comments, made in a speech to the Conservative spring conference at the weekend, were “insulting and insensitive”.
He told Sky News: “I think the best thing he could do would be to withdraw the remark and get back to working in a sensible, constructive way with the Europeans. They are our… allies in confronting this massive threat to the security of all of us in Central Europe.”
Mr Johnson told the conference: “I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom, every time. When the British people voted for Brexit in such large numbers, I don’t believe it was because they were hostile to foreigners.
“It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”
Today Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Mr Johnson was not suggesting “at all” a direct comparison between the Ukrainian fight against Vladimir Putin’s invasion and Brexit vote.
It came as the Government was preparing to warn over Russia publishing online recordings of hoax calls made to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel last week.