John Kerry

Obiter dicta: Top UK diplomat dismisses his past insults

Obiter dicta. Inconsequential remarks.

With one archaic Latin expression, Boris Johnson on Tuesday dismissed his three decades' worth of exaggeration and occasional insult, insisting he was fit to represent Britain as it navigates a path out of the European Union. In his maiden news conference as foreign secretary, the surprising choice for top diplomat won cautious support from the U.K.'s most important ally: the United States.

Reading closely from his script, Johnson toned down his typical off-the-cuff candor in a joint news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry. Instead, the former London mayor and key protagonist in last month's "Brexit" drama sought...