A Not-So-Special Relationship: Facing Voters, Johnson Backs Away From Trump

Unpopular and unpredictable, President Trump is emerging as a problem for the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, in his election campaign.

Comments: 72

  1. Was the non-publication of the Russian report into election interference part of the Trump-Johnson phone call? Any deep dive into possible election interference into the 2016 EU referendum might also touch on the US election later that year. The Prime Minister had until Tuesday night to publish, so this phone call happened (just) before the deadline.

  2. @McAdams Good point. But it was a Trump-Farage phone call.

  3. I cannot imagine voting for someone who puts no value on the truth for Prime Minister. In this as in other things, Johnson and Trump are a well matched pair.

  4. An even larger problem for Mr. Johnson is the widely perceived notion that Mr. Johnson is the UK's Mr. Trump.

  5. Confusing article. "Mr. Corbyn suffered his own setback Wednesday when the Labour Party’s deputy, Tom Watson, abruptly resigned and said he would not run for his seat in Parliament. A leader of the party’s dwindling centrist faction, Mr. Watson’s exit will enable Mr. Corbyn to cement control over the party." Why exactly is it a setback for Corbyn if "Mr. Watson’s exit will enable Mr. Corbyn to cement control over the party"? Also no attempt to explain why Trump might have said Johnson's Brexit deal with UK would preclude US trade deal with Britain. Perhaps you have something to add about that?

  6. It’s possible that what is meant here is that Tom Watson’s resignation is a setback for the Labour Party as it allows Corbyn to cement his hold on Labour. However, I disagree somewhat with this sentiment - I believe that once Boris wins the election, which will be really unfortunate, Labour will finally rid themselves of Corbyn.

  7. Everyone that works with The Donald eventually gets burned. Everyone who works for him will eventually be cast aside and discarded. The Donald is psychologically and constitutionally incapable of thinking about anyone other than himself. He cannot see a situation from another person's point of view. Everyone who works with The Donald, no matter how spineless and supine, will at some point have to disagree with The Donald. That will be the beginning of the end of the relationship. The Donald sows chaos and confusion wherever he goes. If he is sowing confusion in Britain, at least he is not sowing it here. He is giving us a momentary break.

  8. @Aubrey Exactly correct. He is a pathological liar and narcissist who will turn on anyone as soon as it suits his purposes. Even organized crime members have more loyalty.

  9. How many other men wished they had backed away from Donald Trump? Boris maybe smarter than given credit for.

  10. @MIMA I'm thinking Lindsey Graham could kick himself right now. He's so deep in the Trump cesspool, he will never be able to climb out unsoiled.

  11. @MIMA Boris might be a Mad Hatter, but he's not as nuts as our guy. Trump is a gift that keeps on giving for Corbyn, so Johnson has no choice but to back away from Trump. In fact, if Johnson begins to actually attack Trump on some issues, he could be better off.

  12. There is absolutely no reason for US to provide special concessions to UK after Brexit. I see this statement thrown around all the time. I have never seen hard credible estimates of the said economic benefit. Speaking of special relationships, we shod see how Trump treats his current and former wives, the mothers of his children, his children and his long time staff to understand what "special relationship" means the him.

  13. @SB The benefits would go exclusively to trump, Johnson and their wealthy cronies, and come directly out of the pockets of the general public. So of course they're going to try to make it happen.

  14. Of course Johnson is backing off Trump - he's running for election. Associating with Trump won't win him any votes.

  15. Labor and the other parties contesting the Tories should make the most of BoJo's affiliation with Trump. And, of course, the link between this election and the commitment to a second referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union. In other words, "No Trump, and Second Referendum."

  16. Any person or government placing their future or reputation on trump is in for a big disappointment. Just pay attention to his track record. Britain should be more concerned about losing Scotland and N Ireland at this point. I keep wondering when a dose of reality will set in. Nobody outside of Britain cares what they do, but the British people should be concerned, because politicians like Boris are taking them down the road to nowhere. It seems Britain like the US is in a dysfunctional state right now where nothing, and I mean nothing gets done in the halls of government besides agreeing on disagreeing.

  17. Trump lives in a fantasy world where everybody loves him, including outside the US and he therefore has a right to interfere in other nations political processes. Bit of the Putin in him and certainly explains the disastrous situation he has found himself in because of his meddling in the Ukraine. In the UK, a small, very small percentage of the population can stomach him. Trump is somewhat respected because he is the President of the US, not because he is Donald Trump. He is on a daily basis squandering the asset of being President. He has blundered into the Brexit process and apart from Farage has earned no friends, quite the opposite. His interference on Brexit, the election and possible future trade deals could in the end cost the Tories greatly. In his misguided radio phone call with Farage only served to damage Farage and Johnson and gave Corbyn a stick to beat them with. Given the results in the election on Tuesday, perhaps Republicans will see, as the Conservatives here see, that Trump is not an electoral asset but an increasing liability.

  18. Though Johnson can try to back away from his association with an abysmally unpoplar figure like DJTrump, he (and we) can not duck the facts concerning how and why each came to power! Both relied heavily on an environment aggressively cultivated, conditioned and manipulated by Russia's Putin, with identical objectives in mind. Namely, the weakening, subversion or destruction of Western alliances and removal of impediments to Putin's territorial aims. At the same time, both opportunistically capitalized upon the very real backlash engendered by the mass exodus of refugees from one unjust Middle East war started for all the wrong reasons , plus another type of war caused mass displacement. The latter has been festering in Central America for years and has now been compounded by the adverse effects of climate change. Entering the fray we see the effect of years of far right xenophobic fear mongering, racism and resentment towards all pleuralist democratic approaches to governance. Add unrestricted money entrained into US politics especially from opportunists everywhere and we get the likes of Brexit in the UK and unprecedented Trumpian corruption in the US. The sad part is that close to half the affected populations can not even agree on the factual history of how we got in this mess to the perfect storm engendered by the concurrent social media age juggernaut of disinformation.

  19. Lashing himself to the SS Trump is a good electoral move for Boris Johnson. Like former Governor Mike Bevin of Kentucky, Trump's support will ensure Johnson loses by a much smaller margin.

  20. @Civic Samurai Jack Daniels flavoured Kool-Aid: clearly powerful stuff!

  21. @Civic Samurai And Trump will brag about that for months too.

  22. "Conservative" in the UK is looking more like what it means in the US- not about conserving anything at all, just destroying things and hurting people. Labour needs to capitalize on the reality that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Donald Trump and Tsar Putin.

  23. Obama was responding to a question regarding his views on UK leaving the EU. Trump is indulging in uninvited interference. Johnson has his own unpopularity issues to deal with.

  24. Johnson is surely a squirrelly character, but he is also aware of Trump’s impeachment woes, in addition to how his support of Republican candidates is backfiring. He knows, too, as we all do, that Trump has no loyalty. Why would Boris want to align himself with such a lose cannon that could potentially sabotage his campaign? The answer is, he wouldn’t, as evidenced by his pulling away from Trump.

  25. If only DJT would just do the right thing and hold a London rally for his real choice in this election, Nigel Farage? I’m sure the NFL would give him the pre-show warm-up spot before one of their Wembley games.

  26. I think Trump is too obviously a Putin puppet. Johnson is as well, but the people of the UK don't necessarily make that connection. It might become clear if he is too close to Trump. Their styles are somewhat different too. Where Johnson tries to be an impish little boy, Trump's persona is that of smarmy used car salesman. So, they are not a good match, at least, in the way that they gaslight their followers. But make no mistake, they both work to make Russia great again.

  27. Donald offered his version of a lend-lease deal in addition to 50 old destroyers to be converted to container ships. Boris wanted ye olde England to become a US state after Ireland, Wales, and Scotland secede. No deal!

  28. Let's face it, you cannot believe what this White House says about phone calls or anything else because Trump and his aides lie as they breathe. I don't have a very high regard for any Brexiteer but Boris Johnson is smarter than Trump, derided his "stupendous ignorance" on Trump's last visit to Britain and must have realized by now that any association with the most toxic American president ever elected across the pond would detract from his own re-election chances.

  29. Bad hair, conflicting statements, a flare for the dramatic-Donald and Boris have so much in common.I am thrilled that Britons take such a dim view of Trump-you do think he is “dotty” don’t you? Americans should stay out of the elections in other countries-I hope,the schism between Boris and Donald widens to a gulf!

  30. Associating yourself or your party with Trump is toxic. Rick Wilson is right, "Everything Trump touches dies".

  31. @Peggy That dovetails with my opinion that "Everything Britain touches turns to ....".

  32. Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.

  33. @Nathan Hansard ...and when you happen to encounter 2 dogs with fleas, such as the 'leaders' discussed in the article, use at least a 10 foot pole to keep them far away from you and those you care about.

  34. The more Johnson is associated with Trump, the less likely for Johnson to win in the election. Carry on regardless!

  35. If there's nothing to hide, why is Johnson sitting on this vital report; he must know it looks bad for him. There's so much dodgy stuff tied up in Brexit that, in the current circumstances where Remainers now appear to be outnumbering Leavers by a significant margin, it's crucial to find out what really went on behind the scenes. If Boris goes on this way his party will grow more and more like the GOP in the US. I suspect few in the UK would want that.

  36. Yes, but unfortunately Boris’ competition is Jeremy Corbyn, who might be the most unpopular leader in the U.K. right now. If Labour had not tied themselves to Corbyn, there is little doubt that they would win in a landslide.

  37. Both men are spoiled narcissists who will do and say anything to stay in power. The only difference seems to be that Boris has some self-awareness, however stunted, and a sense of humor, which makes him more palatable.

  38. Boorish Johnson has enough problems without being tied to the sinking ship of Trump.

  39. Boris Johnson is horrendous. But surely if Corbyn was a more sensible and moderate leader, this wouldn’t even be a competition. His vision of the UK is almost unrecognizable to many sensible voters. The biggest gift to both Trump and Johnson is an ineffective opposition. Here in the U.S., Elizabeth Warren has all the potential to be a great president. But she is working very hard to alienate many moderate middle class voters. Even people who support her are forced to offer the defense: she won’t actually do most of what is in her plans. There are real problems in America and they require big solutions, but you also have to careful not to replace one problem with another. I also think it’s possible to run a campaign that doesn’t pick one slice and country and vilify it. We are a country of farmers and bankers and teachers and lawyers and factory workers and nurses and delivery drivers. What we each do helps the other. Most of the way that we interact with each other is inside companies where we combine our talents and trade it’s output with others. Elizabeth Warren now seems to condemn corporations and Wall Street outright. That’s a huge chunk of what we all do and how this country works. It’s a deeply flawed approach to wanting to lead the WHOLE country. It’s basically Trump but with a different set of “enemies”.

  40. @Baldwin Thank you for this. It sums up nicely the problem I have with Warren.

  41. Trump is deeply unpopular all over the world. It's not hard to see why Johnson or anyone else would run screaming from association with the President of the United States.

  42. The Prime Minister's best asset in this election is the Labor Leader Corbyn, who is running around desperately trying to get people to forget what he would do to UK by babbling about things like "chlorinated chicken". The PM would do well to focus all his fire on Jeremy Corbyn, and how he would try to bring back the grim socialist UK of the past. Dystopian future, indeed! This article tries to be all about bad news for the Conservatives despite the fact that they have solidified a good lead in the polls, thanks in good part to Mr. Corbyn. Prime Minister Johnson does have his problems, but their Leader is Labor's big problem, and one they cannot do anything about.

  43. Trump's ego is bigger than international borders. From the don's perspective, no publicity is bad publicity. NHS? Of course, it's ironic that we are still waiting to hear about the replacement for the ACA. Crickets.

  44. Considering the likelihood that Donald Trump will no longer be in office when trade deals will be made, Corbyn might want to mention possible negative future relationship with PM Johnson's administration.

  45. Are you saying that Trump has time to cal into a London radio show to offer Boredom advice? How about if Trump would call into the cages where children are being confined and offer them advice.

  46. Usually in a disagreement over what was said in a conversation the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Given the history of these two inveterate liars, I suspect the truth is nowhere to be found in either of their characterizations.

  47. All this time, Boris Johnson has not said much, or anything, regarding the pros and cons of a Brexit. Like his predecessor, he failed to convince Parliament, with his Brexit proposals. The next best thing he could do is to call for a pre X'mas elections. England is a great country. So, are the people. England will do well to remain in Associations, and be a part of global groups - whether trade, security alliances etc., To remain in the EU, will of benefit to the people and country. To go for a Brexit, will only please and appease those selfish Brexit proponents. This will also include Russia, working in hiding, to see a break up of Europe, and want England to be a test case. The British people must know this by now, and use their best judgement in the coming elections, for the love of their country and their future generations.

  48. Like trump, Boris plays the fool but unlike trump, he's only acting. Dump trump and carry on.

  49. Farage blames Obama...

  50. Guess Johnson saw what happened in Kentucky.

  51. @Ted Read the transcript? If Trump is telling the truth about his "deal" with Boris, he should publish it for all to read.

  52. Russia orchestrated Brexit. Knowing this, why are they proceeding with this lunacy?

  53. Both are Russian assets. 'Nuh said.

  54. Proves the old adage as to what happens when you lie down with dogs.

  55. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are made from the same cloth. At least Johnson has awoken to the fact that Trump is a toxic cancer. That's more than what can be said for for the GOP who still licks the bottom of Trump's boots, even though the toxins from his soles will eventually kill all of them in public opinion.

  56. Boris Johnson, however clownish in his suicidal mission to isolate his country (Britain) from the European Union, is not dumb (unlike arrogant Trump's playing dumb to hide his deep ignorance). He knows that pesky nonsense promoted by demagogue Trump may boomerang...and hit him where it hurts, his ego. In this day and age, it seems impressive how much we are driven by tribal emotions...instead of a modicum of thoughtful restraint...based on reality, the truth, and an ounce of decency.

  57. I was greatly relieved to see the contrasting figures on U.K. attitudes to Trump and Obama. At least we haven’t gone entirely out of our little minds. I suspect and hope that the longer this election campaign goes on the more people will see through the shallow Tory vision and come together to get rid of them.

  58. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are political soulmates, birds of a feather. They are morally repugnant, philosophically disgusting aspiring autocrats individuals who are exactly the people that the founding fathers of the United States warned against. They are truly enemies of democracy and truth. Politics is the art of bringing people together with ideas and a vision of a better future. These two charlatans are the anti-thesis of politicians. They seek power for themselves at the expense of everyone that they claim to represent. They are the physical manifestations of ignorance and bad-faith and they represent nothing but the destruction of morality, understanding, and hope. It is truly disturbing to watch their supporters embrace a future world informed by racism, ignorance, and moral relativism.

  59. Actually, the man who STILL supports Trump is the biggest "Kook" of all Nigel Farage the leader of the newly formed Brexit Party. He still doesn't seem to understand that his support is for a criminal.

  60. Trump deeply offends the vast majority of UK residents. Johnson is not well regarded but is seen simply as slightly less dangerous than the marxists Corbyn and Mcdonnell. Be clear these two are not Warren type radical left reformers, with intellect and a plan, they are simply bitter and angry old fashioned marxist soviet types from the seventies, admirers of Chavez.

  61. Brexit turned British politics into a basket case. Where is the upside? The UK voters for Brexit placed the country on a glide path to economic decline and will reduce their international influence. The UK electorate seems poised to give victory to Johnson. Trump is perhaps the most toxic politician in the world today. He has punished the US with his absurd rude behavior as the rest of the world looks on aghast. Johnson would be extremely foolish to connect himself with Trump.

  62. Boris Johnson is very clever and his sentences are so well constructed that he can almost sell anything any way he wants to. Trump is just plain ignorant and has a limited vocabulary, and still has no desire to educate himself. He thinks he can sell anything to anyone, but he succeeds only with those who willfully want to believe his lies as absolute truths.

  63. Trump says the two leaders pledged to negotiate “a robust bilateral free trade agreement once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.” Boris says nothing about a deal, noting instead that Mr. Johnson urged Mr. Trump "to lift American tariffs on Scotch whisky." Well the whole world knows Trump is a pathological liar.

  64. Can't wait for Mr Trump to return to London in December. I have kept my poster from his previous visit, which alluded to his being The Groper-in-Chief', and will march again. The more he is associated with Johnson the better it will be for our election outcome, so let him interfere and comment to his heart's content. (I am not a Corbyn supporter and it should never be forgotten that Farage, despite seven attempts, has never won a seat in the UK parliament.) Johnson has read the Trump playbook, meaning he lies at every turn, betrays those whom he is meant to love, and is only concerned about himself, rather than his country. Both of our countries are being failed.

  65. The UK press and public should hound Johnson over suppression of the ISC report until it is released. UK voters might not find out about the first election meddling until after it happens a second time! It is downright comtemptuous of Johnson to keep it from the voting public.

  66. It's been pretty well documented that the last thing that goes into Trump's ear is the first thing that comes out of his mouth. And, he is easily influenced by flattery. He does not appear to read much of anything, he has a limited vocabulary, and doesn't like getting down into details. Everyone Trump likes is a "great guy" until he no longer likes that person and Trump ghosts him. Trump exhausts people and once they're exhausted he gets rid of them.

  67. it is high time that world leaders begin stepping up and distancing themselves from this corrupt President, why is Canada, not one to do so, Canadians are having a hard time wondering when our Trudeau (he needs to take a page from his father, a much greater prime minister and character)will follow suit., it is nice to hear that Macron has also strongly reprimanded Trump, so what is driving them to do so now, in Johnson's case it is the upcoming election, in Macron's case crisis of honor towards his people.

  68. When I was chatting with pensioners in pubs this summer they all loved Trump and Brexit so I am not sure how much of a swing vote there is to persuade on this.

  69. The older the crowd the more likely they are to fear and blame the “other”. We still have a lot of evolving to do. We just won’t have a planet left to evolve on. Oh well...

  70. @Truie - I love this. You should be writing Greeting Cards. Certainly this one should be for that new holiday, DOOMSDAY. And we don't even have to cook a big meal to celebrate.

  71. America only has Russia meddling in its elections. The UK has Putin AND Trump. Sad!

  72. The British equivalent of Donald Trump is not Boris Johnson. It is Nigel Farage. Trump and Farage are the two that go together.