DAFT, buffoon, and poodle were just some of the terms being used to describe Boris Johnson yesterday, after he gave in to American demands to cancel a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

The Foreign Secretary was supposed to be meeting Sergey Lavrov in Moscow later today but pulled out after the White House told him to stay away.

Instead, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will travel to Moscow to deliver a “clear and co-ordinated” message on Syria and the brutal regime of Bashar Assad to Vladimir Putin’s administration.

It would have been the first time a British Foreign Secretary had visited Moscow in five years.

LibDem leader Tim Farron said it was clear America saw Johnson as a “buffoon” and diplomatic liability.

Alex Salmond claimed Johnson shirking his responsibilities made the Tory look like “some sort of mini-me” who cannot be trusted.

Even the Kremlin were embarrassed for Johnson, and said it showed the UK had “no real influence.”

Tillerson’s meeting with Lavrov will be the first since Trump deployed 59 Tomahawk missiles to destroy a Syrian airfield last Thursday.

The Americans were responding to a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria that left 80 dead, including a number of children.

Russia has consistently denied that Syrian forces used chemical weapons, insisting the incident was caused by a hit on a rebel chemical weapons plant. That claim has been widely dismissed by the West, and activists and witnesses on the ground.

UK defence secretary Michael Fallon said Russia was to blame for “every civilian death” in the attack. He added the Kremlin was responsible “by proxy” as the “principal backer” of the Assad regime. Johnson will head to Lucca, in Italy, for a G7 meeting, where, from the safe distance of 1,900 miles, he will call for Putin to pull his troops from Syria.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said: “During Johnson’s visit to Moscow there were plans to hold open and exhaustive talks on the entire spectrum of international problems, and also to discuss the state of Russo-British relations, which have, in essence, been forced into a dead end by the UK.

“The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Salmond said Boris deferring to the Pentagon was humiliating.

The SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman added: “What is the argument for not going ahead with a visit? Rex Tillerson is going on Wednesday so it can’t be that we have moved to a Cold War position of no talking whatsoever.

“That’s not a position any Foreign Secretary would want to be in.”

Salmond added: “Boris Johnson looks in deep political trouble this morning.”

Farron said it was clear Trump saw Johnson as a buffoon and a diplomatic liability.

“Is this what taking back control looks like?” the LibDem leader asked. “Our government quick to blindly follow every order from the Trump White House.

“Boris has revealed himself to be a poodle of Washington, having his diary managed from across the pond. It is pretty shameful when even Trump judges you to be a buffoon.”

Johnson’s colleague Priti Patel stood up for the Foreign Secretary, saying: “This isn’t just about one voice, this is about the international community coming together and our Foreign Secretary is working with his American counterpart as that is the right thing to do.”

She also refused to say if Britain would support future strikes by the US if there are fresh chemical attacks in Syria, saying: “We are not going to speculate on hypothetical scenarios and situations but we continue to provide the life-saving support that is required when we see such medical emergencies.”

A government source accused Johnson’s critics, including LibDem leader Tim Farron, of playing politics.