UK

Donald Trump says Boris Johnson would be 'excellent' Tory leader

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump shake hands Image copyright Getty Images

Donald Trump has said Boris Johnson would be an "excellent" choice for the Conservative Party leadership.

In an interview with the Sun ahead of his visit to the UK, Mr Trump said: "I think Boris would do a very good job."

The US president said other candidates had sought his endorsement, adding: "I could help anybody."

His comments came as Home Secretary Sajid Javid became the latest leadership contender to say he was prepared to leave the EU with no deal.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Javid ruled out holding another referendum, an early general election or revoking Article 50 to end the Brexit process.

'Very talented person'

As the UK braces for Mr Trump's visit with a multi-million-pound security operation, Mr Trump said he had been paying close attention to the Tory leadership contest, which will decide the UK's next prime minister.

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Media captionThe BBC's Jonny Dymond on what to expect from President Trump's visit to the UK

He said: "I actually have studied it very hard. I know the different players. But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent. I like him. I have always liked him.

"I don't know that he is going to be chosen but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person."

Mr Johnson has not responded to Mr Trump's endorsement, and has been critical of the US president in the past.

In 2015 the then-mayor of London said Mr Trump's remarks about alleged "no-go areas" of London "betray a quite stupefying ignorance", and made him "unfit to hold the office of president of the United States".

He added that he "wouldn't want to expose Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump".

And when Mr Trump's administration attempted to bar people from entering the US from Muslim countries in 2017, Mr Johnson said the policy was "divisive and wrong".

But in April 2018 Mr Johnson said it was "fantastic news" that Mr Trump was coming to Britain "at last", for a working visit.

In May last year he was recorded saying Mr Trump could do a better job of Brexit negotiations, as the UK's strategy lacked "guts".

The US president declined to reveal names, but said that "other people" had asked him for endorsements and added: "I could help anybody if I endorse them."

Mr Trump said he also looked favourably on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, telling the Sun: "Yup, I like him."

But he said Environment Secretary Michael Gove had been wrong to apparently criticise him over Iran.

Mr Gove said in an interview that "sabre rattling of the kind that some have advocated is not the way forward".

Both the UK and the US would benefit from pressure on the Middle Eastern nation, Mr Trump said, "so he should be all for that".

'Entirely unacceptable'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Trump's comments were "an entirely unacceptable interference in our democracy".

Mr Corbyn - along with the leaders of the SNP and the Liberal Democrats - is set to boycott the state dinner.

Mr Trump said the Labour leader was "making a mistake" in not attending because as a potential future prime minister "he would want to get along with the United States".

Who will replace Theresa May?

The winner of the contest to lead the Conservative Party will become the next prime minister.

Having previously said he was "surprised how badly" Brexit negotiations went, Mr Trump told the Sun the UK "allowed the European Union to have all the cards".

"It is very hard to play well when one side has all the advantage," he said.

He said the negotiators failed to put pressure on the EU, adding: "They didn't give the European Union anything to lose."

Mr Trump responded to comments made by the Duchess of Sussex, who has been critical in the past of the US president.

Ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, LA-born Meghan backed Mr Trump's rival Hillary Clinton and suggested she would leave the US if he won.

When asked by the Sun about the comments, Mr Trump said he had not been aware of them, adding: "What can I say? I didn't know that she was nasty."

But Mr Trump said Meghan would make "a very good" American princess, adding he thought it was "nice" she had joined the Royal Family.

The US president will arrive in the UK on Monday for a state visit, during which he will meet members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and the Duke of Sussex.

But Meghan, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Archie, in early May, will not be present.

As with last year's visit, demonstrations against the US president are planned.

Despite the scheduled protests, Mr Trump told the Sun he hoped he was "really loved" in the UK.

"I don't imagine any US president was ever closer to your great land," he said.

Compare the candidates' policies and careers

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more

BREXIT

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Would leave the EU with no deal, but it's not his preferred option. - Wants changes to the Irish backstop and proposes sending a new negotiating team to Brussels. - Wants to make changes to the Withdrawal Agreement and thinks it's possible to get them done by 31 October, but has not ruled out an extension.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants to leave on 31 October, the deadline for Brexit set by the EU, with or without a deal. He admits a no-deal exit will cause "some disruption" but says the "way to get a good deal is to prepare for no deal". - Wants to remove the backstop from any deal and replace it with "alternative arrangements". - Says he would withhold the £39bn "divorce" payment the UK is due to give the EU as part of the negotiated deal. He says the money will be retained until there is "greater clarity about the way forward".

TAX AND SPENDING

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into the next Silicon Valley, a "hub of innovation". - Pledged to slash business taxes to the lowest in Europe to attract firms to Britain after Brexit and reduce corporation tax.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 by raising the 40% tax threshold to £80,000. - Says it will benefit three million people and would cost £9.6bn a year. - Plans to pay for the cut partly from a pot set aside by the Treasury for a possible no-deal Brexit, and partly by increasing employee National Insurance payments.

HEALTH AND EDUCATION

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Mental health support in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content. - A cut in interest rate paid on tuition fees. - Long term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession in return for a guarantee that no one leaves the education system without a "rigorous qualification" sufficient to work up to at least the average salary.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Promises to raise spending on secondary school pupils to £5,000 each. - Called the funding gap between some schools in cities compared to those in rural areas a “disturbing reality”. - Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS.

CAREER

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- The foreign secretary campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer. - He even suggested, to widespread criticism, that the EU was like the Soviet Union. However, he has said his party would be committing “political suicide” if it tried to push through a no-deal Brexit. - An MP for South West Surrey since 2005, Mr Hunt was made culture secretary under the coalition government in 2010 and oversaw the 2012 London Olympics before becoming health secretary. - In 2018, he became the longest-serving health minister, and arguably one of the most controversial, since the NHS was created, completing six years in the role. During his tenure, he clashed with unions over contracts for junior doctors, who took part in a series of walkouts in 2015.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- The 55-year Eton and Oxford-educated former political journalist has coveted the top job for many years, but was beaten to No 10 by his contemporary David Cameron. - After eight years as mayor of London, he returned to Parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2016. - A leading Brexiteer, Mr Johnson had been at odds with Theresa May’s Brexit vision for some time before he eventually quit as foreign secretary in protest last year. - Polls suggest he is a popular figure with members of the wider Conservative party.

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