Theresa May’s bad week just got worse. After two Cabinet Brexiteers – David Davis and Boris Johnson – resigned on Monday, the Prime Minister attempted today to suggest it was business as usual tweeting of a ‘productive Cabinet meeting this morning – looking ahead to a busy week’. However, right on cue, President Trump has arrived on the scene to enter some drama.
Ahead of the US president’s working visit on Friday, Trump has been commenting on the UK political situation which, by the way, is in ‘turmoil’. The part that will particularly concern No 10 is not Trump suggesting his trip to Helsinki to see Putin will be easier than the UK one. Instead, it’s Trump’s comments on the former Foreign Secretary. The president praises Johnson and floats the possibility that he may meet with the Brexiteer on his flying visit:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 10, 2018
‘So I have NATO, I have the UK which is in, somewhat, turmoil and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all.
The UK certainly have a lot of things going on. Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He has been very nice to me. Very supportive. Maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him.’
On whether or not Theresa May will continue as PM, the US president says that is a decision for the British people.
The comments can hardly be described as helpful to Downing Street. Far from when Barack Obama went out of his way for David Cameron to say ‘back of the queue’ during the EU referendum campaign, Trump appears to have no intention to make life easier for Theresa May.
Before Monday’s drama, No 10’s big thing to avoid on Trump’s visit was a meeting between the president and Nigel Farage. They thought this would cause embarrassment to the UK government and undermine its negotiating position. Now they have a new problem: will there be a Trump and BoJo photo opp? That combined with a negative comment over the prospect of a UK/US trade deal would be bad news for a beleaguered May.