Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have ‘a lot in common’, US ambassador says
Woody Johnson also predicts ‘sensational’ partnership between two leaders despite recent souring of US-UK relations
Woody Johnson’s comments, drawing comparisons between the two leaders, follow weeks of strained relations between Washington and London over the US president’s racist remarks towards four American congresswomen, and unprecedented criticism of former prime minister Theresa May.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump welcomed Mr Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street, saying: “He’s a good man, he’s tough and he’s smart. They call him ‘Britain Trump’.”
Asked about the comments, the ambassador told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think they do have a lot... leadership has a lot in common. Both these leaders have their own style but they have similarities, they have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish.”
He also claimed Mr Johnson’s criticism, during the Conservative leadership contest, of the US president about his “go back” comments to congresswomen of colour would not jeopardise transatlantic relations.
Before winning the Tory crown, Mr Johnson said Mr Trump’s remarks were “totally unacceptable” in a “modern multicultural country”.
Pressed on whether Mr Trump would hold the comments against the prime minister, he said: “I think the president is going to try and move the ball forward.
“The UK is our most important ally both in security and also in prosperity, you are very important and he knows that and he’s made some comments regarding a free trade agreement and putting the UK at the front of the line.”
But the US ambassador struggled to defend the president’s comments aimed at leaks involving his opposite number in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, who resigned from his post earlier this month after a leak of diplomatic cables.
Instead, he pushed for a focus on the “positives” and to “look forward”, and declined to say whether he had sympathy with Sir Kim after losing his post.
On the escalating tension in the Gulf, Woody Johnson said the US would want to be involved in any negotiations with Iran about seized oil tankers. “Well absolutely,” he said. “I mean it’s very important for both of our countries.
“A lot of the discussions regarding the relationship between our two countries and Iran involve both of us and also our Five Eyes partners [Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom] and other allies.”