Donald Trump defies diplomatic norms to back Boris Johnson to be next PM
In an unprecedented intervention, Mr Trump said he also liked Jeremy Hunt, who is among those vying for the top job.
Donald Trump has defied diplomatic norms by backing Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister.
The US president said the former foreign secretary would be “excellent” in the role, just days before MPs start voting to replace Theresa May as Conservative Party leader.
In an unprecedented intervention, Mr Trump said he also liked Jeremy Hunt, who is among those vying for the top job, but appeared to criticise Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Trump told The Sun newspaper: “I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent…
“I like him. I have always liked him. I don’t know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person.
“He has been very positive about me and our country.”
The American president claimed other candidates had approached him in a bid to secure his endorsement.
I could help anybody if I endorse them Donald Trump
“I could help anybody if I endorse them. I mean, we’ve had endorsement where they have gone up for 40, 50 points at a shot,” he added.
“Now that is here, but I understand over there would be a great endorsement.”
Mr Gove last week accused the 72-year-old president of “sabre rattling” over his policy towards Iran, but Mr Trump suggested he was wrong to criticise him over the issue.
He said: “I’m trying to make it so that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Very simple. And I can’t think of anybody other than us that would benefit more than the UK, so he should be all for that.
“Nuclear weapons is the single biggest problem that the world has and we can’t allow them to proliferate. We just can’t allow it.”
Commons Leader Mel Stride, who is supporting Mr Gove, said it was not up to Mr Trump to select the next Tory leader.
“The president of the United States of course is entitled to his opinion, but it’s not the case of him picking the next prime minister of our country,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“That process as you know will be one involving the parliamentary party and then the membership itself.”
Mr Hunt said he was “proud” as Foreign Secretary that the UK has “the best relationship with the United States”, and expressed his sadness that “some political parties” have used Mr Trump’s state visit as a “moment for virtue-signalling”.
“This isn’t about any individual president or any individual prime minister: this is about the deep, deep friendship between our two nations. Two nations that have done more than any other to stand up for liberty, freedom and democratic values,” he told the BBC.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Mr Trump’s intervention and said the next prime minister should be chosen in a general election.
“President Trump’s attempt to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister is an entirely unacceptable interference in our country’s democracy, he said.
“The next prime minister should be chosen not by the US president, nor by 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members, but by the British people in a general election.”