President Donald Trump on Tuesday commended Boris Johnson for his election as leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, predicting that the former London mayor and foreign secretary “will be great” as Britain’s next prime minister.
“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
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Johnson clinched victory over Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt with 66 percent of the votes from Conservative Party members and will replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May as Tory leader. Johnson will be invited on Wednesday by Queen Elizabeth II to form a government.
Trump controversially weighed in on the race to succeed May prior to his first state visit to the U.K. in June, when he told British tabloid The Sun that Johnson is “a very good guy, a very talented person” who “would do a very good job” as prime minister.
Trump has been highly critical, both on social media and to reporters, of May’s handling of the United Kingdom’s efforts to extricate itself from the European Union. But appearing alongside the prime minister at a news conference during his most recent U.K. trip, the president praised her as “probably a better negotiator than I am,” and said she deserved “a lot of credit” for her handling of Brexit.
The relationship between the two leaders suffered another setback, however, after leaked diplomatic cables earlier this month showed Britain’s ambassador to Washington describing the Trump administration as “dysfunctional” and “inept” in messages to Downing Street.
“He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” Trump wrote online of the envoy, Sir Kim Darroch. “I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!”
Johnson, an ardent Brexit backer, has pledged to withdraw the U.K. from the European Union on October 31, regardless of whether a deal has been reached between London and Brussels