— Dan Fox (@DanJFox) February 22, 2016
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told an audience at a Med2 conference in Rome, Italy: "There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives."
"That's one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me — and that's why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area — is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves."
"That's why you've got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in, and puppeteering and playing proxy wars."
Downing Street has been forced to distance itself from the comments made by Boris Johnson and picked up in a recording obtained by London newspaper The Guardian.
An official spokesperson from Number 10 said it had "full confidence in the foreign secretary" and that Saudi Arabia was "a vital partner for the UK, particularly on counter-terrorism and, when you look at what is happening in the region, we are supportive of the Saudi-led coalition which is working in support of the legitimate government in Yemen against Houthi rebels."
Theresa May's official spokesperson said that the comments made by Boris Johnson about Saudi Arabia were the Foreign Secretary's own and did not reflect British government policy.
The emergence of the footage from the conference heaps more embarrassment upon Boris Johnson who is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Sunday 11, December, 2016.
But for all the guffaw and embarrassment Boris Johnson has once again exposed the British government to, many MPs and ministers believe Mr. Johnson is at last "talking sense."
A statement from Liberal Democrat shadow foreign secretary Tom Brake said Boris Johnson was "for once talking sense," but questioned his departure from the party line.
"This will be a huge embarrassment to [Theresa] May as she returns from her grubby tour of the Gulf, where she did her best to ignore human rights and desperately push trade at all costs."
The British government has been criticized by aid charities, NGOs and a parliamentary enquiry for granting UK export licenses for arms and munitions to be sold to the Saudi Arabian backed coalition for use in the war in Yemen. It's been widely reported that these weapons have killed civilians.