Trump says new British Prime Minister Johnson ‘will be great’

Trump (right) has thrown his support for Johnson. (Reuters pic)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday heralded the selection of Boris Johnson as the new leader of Britain’s governing Conservative Party and the United Kingdom’s next prime minister, in a possible sign of warmer relations between the two allies.

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” Trump said in a post on Twitter shortly after Johnson’s election.

Trump has had tense relations with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May despite being hosted for a state visit. Ties were further strained this month following leaked messages by the British ambassador to Washington that referred to Trump; the official later quit.

The US president has repeatedly praised Johnson, the flamboyant former London mayor and pro-Brexit champion who has been compared to the Republican US president, a former reality television host and real estate developer known for his unconventional, combative approach to politics.

Johnson was the overwhelming favourite to win Tuesday’s Conservative Party election despite a chaotic private life and a reputation for lies, exaggeration, a lack of seriousness and discipline. He replaces May, who stepped down after failing to deliver on her Brexit plan to leave the European Union.

Like Trump, Johnson has led a country-first campaign and will now lead a heavily divided nation.