It’s not every day that the ambassador of one of Britain’s closest allies calls the prime minister a congenital liar. Sylvie Bermann, who was until 2017 France’s envoy at the court of St James, is amused by the fuss in London over her portrait of Boris Johnson as a clever but reckless opportunist with no regard for the truth. Johnson, she wrote in her new book Goodbye Britannia, “lies to embellish reality, lies as a game but also as an instrument of power”.
A shower of Brexiteer wrath has been lobbed back across the Channel. “I’ve come in for the usual stuff: ‘Without us, you’d still be under the Third Reich’ and so on,” Bermann says, talking in her flat on the Paris Left Bank. “I didn’t mean that to be provocative. It’s just a factual description. He built his career on lying. He was sacked from The Times because he lied. Everyone knows it.” She has also received congratulations from British opponents of Brexit.