GALLERY: Boris Johnson takes boat trip with European ministers at Kent residence...despite wife’s fears they would drown
PUBLISHED: 10:39 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 17 October 2017
The foreign secretary welcomed allies to Chevening House near Sevenoaks
Boris Johnson has taken an impromptu boat trip with a foreign counterpart at his official Kent residence - despite desperate pleas from his wife to stay on dry land for fear they would be drowned.
During a walk around the estate at Chevening House, near Sevenoaks, the foreign secretary tried to encourage ministers from eight European allies to join him for a spin out in a rowing boat.
After Mr Johnson pushed the vessel out on to the water, wife Marina Wheeler tried to persuade him to head to the house with the delegation.
Taking him by the arm, the barrister said: “Come on, they have got a programme. We don’t want to drown... we are not drowning the foreign ministers, come on.”
But Mr Johnson soon headed back to the boat where he suffered a wardrobe malfunction more commonly associated with builders while holding it steady for the Czech Republic’s deputy foreign minister Ivo Sramek.
Joining Mr Sramek in the dinghy, Mr Johnson said the paddle would be a “tremendous success” before spent a couple of minutes rowing round the lake.
As well as the Czech minister, Mr Johnson was hosting counterparts from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia at the grace and favour house in Kent for talks on European security.
He said: “Our departure from the EU will make no difference to Britain’s unconditional and immovable commitment to the security and defence of Europe.
“This meeting was a further demonstration that the UK is a vital partner in the security of our continent.”
Chevening House has played host to a number of meetings between senior government ministers and business figures in recent months, mostly to discuss the impact of leaving the European Union.
Back in June, Mr Johnson was spotted meeting defence secretary and constituency MP, Sir Michael Fallon, at local pub, The Bricklayers Arms in Chipstead.
The pair were then caught chatting on a bench overlooking the River Darent, sparking rumours the former London mayor was planning to relaunch a leadership bid with criticism of Theresa May growing louder.
These claims were swiftly denied, as sources said Mr Johnson “regularly sees Michael when he is staying at Chevening”.
However, criticism of the foreign secretary has ramped up again in recent weeks, particularly during the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, with Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately admitting it was “unhelpful that he was getting headlines” in the run-up to Mrs May’s now-infamous keynote speech.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke refused to be drawn on whether he was frustrated by Mr Johnson’s behaviour, simply telling us: “Boris is a great charismatic figure, he is foreign secretary and we need all our best players on the pitch.”
Chevening locals have previously revealed it is no secret when ministers are in town, as they come with a huge security presence, and visitors approaching the gates of the 115-room estate are confronted by an armed guard.