Boris the British Trump? Not So Fast…

With Boris Johnson succeeding Theresa May as Tory leader, many believe the United Kingdom now has its “British Trump” — but the American and the Englishman are not as similar as they might appear.

Britain’s governing Conservative Party, often still referred to as the Tories, like their 17th-century Cavalier forebears, has for many years been an only notionally right-wing party, dominated by “centrists” roughly equivalent to so-called Republicans In Name Only, or RINOs, in the United States.

Successive generations of Tory prime ministers have supporting handing away national sovereignty to the European Union and its predecessor organisations, with even the late Margaret Thatcher being a supporter of the bloc before her dealings with it in office changed her mind.

More recently, David Cameron and especially Theresa May have enthusiastically embraced the left-“progressive” stance on a wide range of policies, including climate change, lavish spending on foreign aid, the alleged gender pay gap, and a raft of measures designed to tackle supposed racial disparities and “hate speech”.

The party has also presided over massive levels immigration, with party grandees openly admitting that senior ministers do not support repeated but unkept manifesto promises to reduce it, while allowing the British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy to shrink to historically low strengths, and police manpower to fall by tens of thousands.

Boris Johnson, known for his florid and often politically incorrect speech and prose, as well as his high-profile support for Brexit during the EU referendum in 2016, is therefore viewed with some horror by the left-liberal commentariat, who see in him a Trumpian figure who will put the minority of broadly conservative — with a small “c” — or at least libertarian-leaning Tory MPs who more accurately reflect the sensibilities of the Tory membership and voter base in the party’s driving seat for the first time in decades.

But the evidence suggests Johnson has little common with the American leader beyond his outward support for nation-state sovereignty, being a passionate supporter of immigration and even an amnesty for illegal immigrants and boasting of his own Muslim Turkish heritage.

Mr Johnson is also a big supporter of free trade with sweatshop economies like the People’s Republic of China, while President Trump has taken active measures to protect American workers from what he sees as unfair competition — and Johnson has also backed the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by Obama and kept alive by the EU after his successor pulled out of it.

Perhaps most tellingly of all, during his time as London mayor Johnson was among the many establishment politicians in Britain to publicly and stridently disparage Mr Trump when he was merely one of several candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidential race — a contest in which Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton was expected to obliterate him at the polls even if he somehow did make it through.

“When Donald Trump says that there are parts of London that are no-go areas, I think he’s betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him, frankly, unfit to hold the office of President of the United States,” he sneered in an interview in late 2015.

“I would invite him to come and see the whole of London and take him round the city except that I wouldn’t want to expose Londoners to any unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump,” he added — a riff on similar comments that “the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

Even now, despite President Trump’s praise for Johnson, and Johnson’s attempts to build something of a rapport with the American now that he leads the U.S., Johnson is reported to selecting his Cabinet picks based in part on a desire to assure people that indeed he is not a “British Trump”.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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