A German reporter pressed Mrs May to explain why she had appointed Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary, asking: “Why are you putting – to put it in football terms – a player on the pitch who doesn’t actually want to play?”
The PM responded: “I think it would be dangerous for a British Prime Minister to talk about football in Germany. This is not something on which we have perhaps quite as good a record as the Germans do.
“I have appointed a team of ministers who will take forward the position of the British Government. We are very clear that as a British Government we will be looking to build good relations with all European member states…
“Those positive relations will underpin everything that I do as Prime Minister and everything my ministers do across the whole UK Government.”
Quick to move on, Theresa May was caught in an awkward exchange with Angela Merkel as she sought out another question from the floor, only to be interrupted by her German counterpart.
Mrs Merkel said: “No, I have to answer the…” before trailing off and starting again in German.
On Mr Johnson, the German chancellor added: “The first meeting of foreign ministers has already occurred among the 28.
“I think what came out of that was that there is a long list of very serious foreign policy problems, be it the EU/Turkey agreement, be it the plight of the people in Syria, the question of territorial integrity of Syria.
“I take it that the British Foreign Secretary in good co-operation with all of the other 27 foreign ministers will work on these issues.
“The reputation of Europe in many ways hinges on the contribution we can give to the solution of such complicated problems. Hundreds of thousands of lives depend on those.”
Mrs May met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, on her first foreign trip as Britain’s leader. At a joint news conference, the two women conveyed a desire to work together, stressing that ties between the UK and Germany will remain strong despite the UK’s exit from the EU.