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

Select a topic...

...and a candidate

Brexit

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to leave with a deal, but says he would back a no-deal Brexit with "a heavy heart" if necessary. - Will create a new negotiating team to produce an "alternative exit deal" to Theresa May’s plan, and engage with EU leaders over August. - Will present a provisional no-deal Brexit budget in early September and decide by the end of the month if there is a "realistic chance" of a new deal. - If not, will abandon talks and focus on no deal preparations. - Pledges to cover the cost of tariffs imposed on the exports of the farming and fishing industries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Vows to leave the EU by the 31 October deadline "come what may", but claims the chance of a no-deal Brexit is a "million to one". - Wants to negotiate a new deal, which will include replacing the Irish backstop with alternative arrangements. - Will not hand over the £39bn divorce settlement with the EU until the UK gets a new deal. - If a new deal is not agreed, will ask the EU for a "standstill period" to negotiate a free trade deal. - Argues a provision under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT 24, could be used for the UK to avoid tariffs for the next 10 years, but admits it would need EU sign off. - Promises to support the rural community in a no-deal Brexit scenario with "price support" and "efficiency payments".

Immigration

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Calls for flexibility on immigration, saying skilled workers should be prioritised. - Wants to review policy of stopping migrants with less than £30,000 coming to the UK to work. - Pledges to scrap the target to reduce net migration to below 100,000.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants a new Australian-style points-based system, considering factors such as whether an immigrant has a firm job offer and their ability to speak English. - Will get Migration Advisory Committee to examine the plan. - Wants to block the ability for immigrants to claim benefits immediately after the arrive in the UK. - Opposes the net migration target of under 100,000 a year.

Tax

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into "the next Silicon Valley... a hub of innovation". - Wants to cut corporation tax to 12.5%. - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying National Insurance to at least £12,000 a year. - Pledges to scrap business rates for 90% of high street shops. - Will increase the tax-free annual investment allowance from £1m to £5m.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges to raise the tax threshold for the higher rate to £80,000 (rather than the current £50,000). - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying income tax. - Will review “unhealthy food taxes” such as sugar tax on soft drinks.

Spending

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to increase defence spending by £15bn over the next five years. - Promises to keep free TV licenses for the over-75s. - Wants to build 1.5 million homes and create a “right to own” scheme for young people. - Backs both HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges more money for public sector workers and wants to increase the National Living Wage. - Will “find the money” to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers by 2022. - Promises to maintain spending 0.7% of GDP on Foreign Aid. - Wants to review the HS2 train project. - Pledges full fibre broadband in every home by 2025.

Health and social care

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Promises more funding for social care. - Wants to introduce an opt out insurance system to fund future care, similar to the way pensions work. - Wants to target manufacturers of unhealthy foods to make them cut the sugar content. - Mental health support to be offered in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Rules out a pay-for-access NHS, saying it would remain "free to everybody at the point of use" under his leadership. - Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS. - Plans to give public sector workers a "fair" pay rise, according to supporter Health Secretary Matt Hancock. - Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party "national consensus".

Education

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Pledges to write off tuition fees for young entrepreneurs who start a new business and employ more than 10 people for five years. - Wants to reduce interest rates on student debt repayments. - Long-term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession. - Wants to abolish illiteracy.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants to raise per-pupil spending in primary and secondary schools, with a minimum of £5,000 for each student in the latter. - Wants to look at lowering the interest rate on student debts.

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