Saturday 7 December 2019

Johnson wants Trump to stay out of election when in UK

Potential headache: Boris Johnson is keen for Donald Trump to stay out of election talk with the Tories ahead in the polls. Photo: Reuters/Peter Nicholls
Potential headache: Boris Johnson is keen for Donald Trump to stay out of election talk with the Tories ahead in the polls. Photo: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew MacAskill

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be "best" if US President Donald Trump does not get involved in Britain's election when he visits London for a Nato summit next week.

Mr Trump waded into the election in October by saying opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would be "so bad" for Britain and that Mr Johnson should agree a pact with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

But senior Conservatives are nervous that Mr Trump could upset the campaign when in London, just over a week before the December 12 election which polls indicate Mr Johnson is on course to win.

"What we don't do traditionally as loving allies and friends, what we don't do traditionally, is get involved in each other's election campaigns," Mr Johnson told LBC radio.

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"The best [thing] when you have close friends and allies like the US and the UK is for neither side to get involved in each other's election."

Mr Johnson has said that, if he retains power, he will deliver Brexit by January 31 - after nearly four years of political crisis following a 2016 referendum in which Britons voted to leave the EU.

He said he wanted to keep in place government preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit - under which Britain would leave without agreement on the terms with Brussels and potentially expose itself to more economic uncertainty - but that he expected to secure a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020.

"Many of those preparations will be extremely valuable as we come out of EU arrangements anyway," he told reporters.

The US president, who is due to arrive on Monday, has cast Mr Johnson as "Britain's Trump" and during a previous visit criticised Mr Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, over her Brexit policy.

Labour's Mr Corbyn has said Mr Johnson will sell off parts of the widely cherished health service to US businesses after Brexit, but Mr Johnson denied this. Mr Trump previously said everything, including health, should be on the table in trade talks, though he later said health would not be.

Mr Johnson said he would use Brexit to introduce new state aid rules, change state purchasing policies and reform farming so that public bodies aim to "buy British" goods.

"The NHS is not for sale," he said.

Taking questions from LBC listeners, he declined to say how many children he had or whether he would have any more.

Mr Johnson also said he wanted to keep in place preparations the government has made for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

"Many of those preparations will be extremely valuable as we come out of EU arrangements anyway," he said.

"I think that they were a right thing to have done and to keep in a state of readiness."

Mr Johnson added he was confident that Britain would get a free trade deal with the European Union by the end of 2020, which would eliminate the risk of a Brexit shock for the economy.

Earlier, Mr Johnson tried to brush aside criticism of his past comments about single mothers and his current refusal to submit to the same amount of televised scrutiny as other party leaders.

Mr Johnson declined to take part in a debate on Thursday alongside his main opponent Mr Corbyn and other party leaders, and has so far refused to commit to a one-on-one TV interview with BBC interrogator Andrew Neil.

"I've done plenty of debates," Mr Johnson told radio station LBC yesterday.

"I can't do absolutely everything."

The Conservatives were also embroiled in a feud with broadcaster Channel 4 over the network's decision to put an Earth-shaped ice sculpture in place of Mr Johnson after he declined to appear for Thursday's climate change-themed TV debate.

The party complained to Britain's broadcast watchdog Ofcom over what it called "a provocative partisan stunt".

Five party leaders took part. Mr Johnson and Mr Farage declined to attend and were replaced with melting sculptures atop podiums.

Mr Johnson has faced questions about his character throughout the election campaign.

The prime minister has a history of making offensive remarks, including in a newspaper column last year in which he compared women who wear face-covering veils to "letter boxes".

This week the Labour Party unearthed an article Mr Johnson wrote in conservative magazine the 'Spectator in 1995 in which he called the children of single mothers "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate".

Irish Independent

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