WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump, days before his state visit to the U.K., again weighed in on British politics, saying Boris Johnson “would do a very good job” as prime minister. He also referred to Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, as “nasty.”
Trump said Johnson, the pro-Brexit front-runner vying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, “would be excellent” as the next leader of the ruling Conservative Party.
“I like him,” Trump said in an interview with the Sun, a London newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. “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,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments come days before he is to arrive in the U.K., and they represent another break with custom not to offer commentary on allies’ internal political contests. Trump also created a stir last July when he said Johnson would make a great prime minister, shortly after the former London mayor quit as foreign secretary in protest against May’s proposed Brexit deal.
The president is expected to meet with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace as well as Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, his wife, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, the duke of Sussex. Yet the upcoming royal reception didn’t stop the president from criticizing Harry’s wife, Meghan — for calling him “misogynistic” and “divisive” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty,” Trump said.
He nevertheless predicted “she will be very good” as a member of the royal family, and said she hoped she succeeded in the role. The princess, an American actress who married Harry last year and who recently gave birth, is not expected to meet Trump during his visit.
Trump said that while he liked Johnson — and the fact “he has been very positive about me” — his words shouldn’t be construed as a full endorsement.
“Other people have asked me for an endorsement too,” Trump said. He added that he believed his backing would “help anybody,” and that he also was a fan of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his plan to increase defense spending. Trump said he had not been approached by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who is also among the candidates for the leadership of the Tories.
Gove criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord in an interview with the BBC earlier this month, saying “saber rattling of the kind that some have advocated is not the way forward.” Trump said Gove should support pressure on Iran that would benefit the U.K.
Earlier this week, Trump said he might meet with Johnson as well as Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage while he was in Britain. May, who repeatedly failed to secure Parliament’s backing for her proposed deal to exit the European Union, has said she will step down on June 7 — after the presidential visit.