Sir Malcolm was asked by Britain's Radio 4 Today program if Mr. Johnson was fit to be foreign secretary, he replied: "The jury's out, if I can put it that way. This is early days. It's a question of his temperament."
A question only the Prime Minister can answer after a rift between Theresa May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was exposed when 'BoJo' told an audience panel at a conference in Italy that he thought Saudi Arabia was "puppeteering" in the Middle East.
As Britain's serving Foreign Secretary, the opinions of Boris Johnson are supposed to reflect UK government policy — not conflict with it.
Boris Johnson is a celebrity. As Foreign Secretary you can't be a celebrity — Malcolm Rifkind #r4today— Paul johnson (@paul__johnson) December 9, 2016
The footage, first published by London newspaper The Guardian, revealed the anti-Saudi Arabia rhetoric spouted by Britain's Foreign Secretary — about Britain's biggest ally in the Middle East.
"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."
#borisjohnson good for Boris (never said that before). Saudi Arabia armed by UK is decimating Yemen. He's right to criticise.— Eileen Hoare (@eileenhoare) December 8, 2016
"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."
After Boris Johnson's comments were published, Downing Street issued a stern statement distancing itself from the UK's foreign secretary's "personal opinions," especially since the PM had just returned from a visit to the Middle East for trade talks.
Boris Johnson, who is a bit like Marmite, divides opinion; people either love him or loathe him.
Boris Johnson Face Generator— Toby Tripp (@feelwelcome) December 6, 2016
(Tap to stop) https://t.co/EhLYoigsIg
However, his recent outburst in Rome has won Bojo support from those who usually loathe him, best revealed on Twitter where the irony of his "truth telling" is not lost.
All looking forward to @BorisJohnson's speech tonight at Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.— Hugo Swire (@HugoSwire) December 9, 2016
— Oxfam (@oxfamgb) December 7, 2016