Donald Trump has paid tribute to Britain’s incoming prime minister, Boris Johnson, describing him as “Britain’s Trump”.
Speaking to an audience of teenage fans, the US president said: “We have a really good man who’s going to be the prime minister of the UK now.
“He’s tough and he’s smart. They’re saying, ‘Britain’s Trump’. They call him ‘Britain’s Trump’ and people are saying that’s a good thing.”
Turning the comparison further in his own favour, Trump continued: “They like me over there. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they need. He’ll get it done. Boris is good. He’s gonna do a good job.”
But does the comparison hold water?
“President Trump has got this half right,” says The Guardian. “Boris Johnson is often compared to Trump. But that is because they both have blond hair and say lots of things that are untrue. Outside Tory/Brexit/Telegraph circles, the comparison is not generally viewed as a compliment.”
The comparison between the two leaders gathered pace when footage emerged of Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Trump, claiming to have discussed a crucial speech with Johnson.
As questions were raised Johnson “absolutely” denied having close contacts with far-right US agitator.
CNN points out a major issue with talk of the two men being cosy. It explains that though in Trump’s mind “there is perhaps no greater compliment… than comparing another world leader to himself,” Johnson once “blasted” Trump.
In December 2015 after the then presidential-hopeful suggested that areas of London were dangerous due to radicalisation while Johnson was mayor of the city, Johnson responded: “The only reason I wouldn’t visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
He accused the reality TV star of “quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of president of the United States”.
In another dig at Trump, Johnson later spoke of his horror at being mistaken for him. “I am genuinely worried that he could become president,” said Boris. “I was in New York and some photographers were trying to take a picture of me and a girl walked down the pavement towards me and she stopped and she said, ‘Gee is that Trump? It was one of the worst moments.”
Since Trump took office, Johnson has been more complimentary. “Actually, he has many, many good qualities,” Johnson said. “He’s cut regulation, cut taxes in a way that has driven growth. My point is that… we Conservatives have failed, for too long, to talk up the agenda of free market economics.”
Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Allison Pearson rejects what she describes as “fatuous” comparisons between the two leaders. “Britain’s Trump?” she writes, “Boris Johnson will prove himself to be a cosmopolitan centrist.”