Jeremy Hunt forgets who his wife is in bizarre gaffe

Written by James Millar on 30 July 2018 in Diary
Diary

New Foreign Secretary makes the sort of mistake expected of his predecessor on trip to China

Jeremy Hunt made an inexplicable gaffe during a speech on his current tour of China when he claimed his wife is Japanese, even though she is in fact Chinese.

The Foreign Secretary quickly corrected himself and admitted it was a "terrible mistake" to make. It's unclear if he regarded it as "terrible" because it's a diplomatic error given Japan and China are traditional rivals in the area or because his wife will give him an ear-bashing for forgetting where she's from.

Hunt was trying to set out his credentials to Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. He told his opposite number: "My wife is Chinese and my children are half-Chinese so we have Chinese grandparents who live in Xian and strong family connections to China," which would have been a great in had he not messed it up by throwing Japan into the mix. Hunt speaks Japanese having lived there for two years so that may have been what he was thinking about when he made the mistake.

He has been married to Lucia Guo since 2009 and the couple have three children.

Hunt is one of the few politicians to have remained in government continuously since the Tories returned to power in 2010. He became the longest serving health secretary in history earlier this year before moving to the Foreign Office this month when Boris Johnson dramatically walked out and is now regarded as a serious contender to replace Theresa May. He still has some way to go to match his predecessor in the gaffe stakes however - Johnson variously upset Burma, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Libya and France during his time as Foreign Secretary as well as producing a number of articles during his career that many regard as racist.

Hunt is in China in an effort to boost trade before he flies back to Europe for meetings to try and sell the government's Brexit plan.

Asked whether the PM was concerned that her Foreign Secretary didn't seem clear on where his wife is from a Number 10 spokesman said: "No, I think he's very clear on that."

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