“Honestly I just find helicopters a bit boring,” Liam Fox said when offered a ride in one by Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte, who once boasted of throwing someone out over Manila.
Yes, we have “shared interests and values” with Mr Duterte despite his killing 7,000 people, many personally, but helicopters are “so 1980s” Mr Fox said on a Philippines trade visit.
The UK Trade Secretary declined Mr Duterte’s offer despite an urgent telephone call from Theresa May instructing him to “Get in that fucking helicopter.”
The Prime Minister, also busy brushing over human rights on a trade visit to Saudi Arabia, is understood to have said: “Liam, you’ve just told Britain it will somehow be more outward-looking after Brexit.
“So start by looking out of that helicopter.
“We need this.”
However, Mr Fox became more insistent in his refusal after Mr Duterte said something under his breath that sounded like “Come here, I want to slap you.”
“Hmm? What was that?” said Mr Fox.
“Oh nothing, just the wind,” said Mr Duterte. “Son of a bitch, I will eat you.”