LONDON – United States President Donald Trump has expressed his support for Boris Johnson as the next leader of the UK’s Conservative Party, saying he would be “excellent” and was “a very talented person.”
Trump’s comments came ahead of his state visit to the UK, which begins on Monday.
“I think Boris would do a very good job,” Trump said of the UK’s former foreign secretary in an interview with British tabloid The Sun published on Saturday.
Johnson was among the candidates – including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid – in the running to become the next Tory leader and head of the government after current Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would be stepping down on June 7.
“I know the different players. But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent. I like him. I have always liked him,” Trump said.
The president said he thought Johnson was “a very talented person.”
The US president did not name Tory leaders who have apparently sought his support, but went on to say that he looked favorably on Hunt, saying “I like him.”
The process to elect the next British prime minister is expected to continue until July as lawmakers will take part in several rounds of voting until a decisive result emerges.
On Wednesday, Johnson was summoned to appear before a court over alleged misconduct regarding comments he made about UK contributions to the European Union during the 2016 referendum campaign.
During the campaign for the referendum – in which the British people narrowly voted to leave the EU –, Johnson said that the UK contributed 350 million pounds (around $442 million) per week to the bloc.
Activist Marcus Ball has accused the former London mayor of misconduct in public office with respect to the claim.
Ball’s lawyers asked for Johnson to be held accountable, claiming he deliberately misled the public during the campaign.
The UK is on course to leave the EU on Oct. 31 following years of negotiations with the EU.
With May failing to get her deal passed through Parliament, it was unclear whether the UK would be leaving the bloc with a deal or not.