Whether or not his promises to New Zealanders come to anything, we now know a few new things about UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: his grandmother ate nothing but New Zealand butter, and he knows nothing at all - not a murmur - about any infighting among his Conservative Party back home.

Johnson had formal meetings with his counterpart Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Prime Minister Bill English this morning, and came out to announce they were unable to find anything to disagree on, however hard they looked.

The meeting began with sporting small talk: Johnson told Brownlee he'd had a fantastic sleep, which made him late for his morning run. Brownlee joked he had wondered why he had not seen Johnson on his own morning jog.

A press release after their meeting spoke of the links between the two countries, in particular around trade and then, rather as a non sequitur: "We both love sport."


As if determined to prove it, Johnson insisted on speaking in sporting analogies.

Johnson took on the role of mailman, passing on a letter from British Prime Minister Theresa May to English and accepting one in return. "We are going to get the ball back over the net," Johnson said of his return letter, followed by "it's coming down the line in a fluid three-quarter movement" as he handed it over.

English got into the game too, saying he would be Sonny Bill Williams - presumably without the shoulder charge.

The hard work done, they went into their meeting. The press conference afterwards showed Brownlee and Johnson shared one important attribute: a distaste for diplomatic jargon and pussyfooting.

When Brownlee emerged and started talking about "People-to-People Dialogue" Johnson could barely restrain his scorn.

He observed he had never known a dialogue that did not involve people. Brownlee chipped in to point out it meant neither Brownlee nor Johnson would have to undergo such trials for "people to people" dialogues effectively meant "no politicians".

Clearly relieved, Johnson started talking about trade between the two countries, answering questions about the resistance of British farmers to New Zealand goods. He offered his own grandmother as evidence the UK welcomed New Zealand dairy products.

"I think my grandmother would buy absolutely nothing else but Anchor butter, I want you to know, as a mark of political principle."


That settled, he carried on with the shameless flattery, castigating himself for failing to visit New Zealand before: "an absolute disgrace!"; comparing Auckland favourably with London, praising the speed of road workers in Kaikoura and saying British tourists stranded in Kaikoura had likely not wanted to leave, "being fed as they were on a diet of crayfish".

If Johnson had hoped the flattery and dearth of British journalists would grant him an amnesty on questions about his aspirations at home, he was soon disappointed.

Asked about infighting in the Conservatives Johnson morphed into Sergeant Schulz from Hogan's Heroes.

He had been so very, very busy in Japan and in New Zealand, so very busy. "Any such activity has completely passed me by!"

He knew nothing. Not a mutter, not a murmur of any such activities had reached his tender ears from the other side of the planet.

He then tried to pass his final question to Brownlee to answer but even Brownlee wouldn't save him, having abandoned the sportsmanship as soon as he saw what way things were heading.

It turned out to be about Johnson's own leadership aspirations.

Admittedly, the election dud not "evolve" the way the party had hoped, Johnson conceded.

But he was a mere mailman, delivering letters from the boss, Theresa May. He had not even steamed the letter open.