The Guardian view on Trump and Johnson: a toxic alliance

The prime minister kept a calculated distance from the US president at the Nato summit because he knows their similarities play badly with voters

Dec. 4, 2019

A US president’s low-key exit from a Nato summit, skipping the traditional press conference, would once have been perceived as a snub to the host government. But Donald Trump’s departure from London will come as a relief to Boris Johnson. Mr Trump is a fan of Brexit and praises the prime minister as the man to deliver it, but his presence in the country was an electoral hazard for the Conservatives.

Some British voters admire Mr Trump, or find him entertaining, but more do not. It is no recommendation for the Tory leader to be liked by a man notorious for dishonesty, ignorance, narcissism and chauvinism.

The US president did one favour for his British counterpart. He claimed no interest in the NHS as a subject of post-Brexit trade talks. That helped rebut a Labour campaign attack, although the veracity of the denial is as doubtful as everything else Mr Trump says.

The two men keeping a choreographed distance from one another does not dispel the perception of ideological proximity, which is problematic for Mr Johnson on many levels. European governments have largely accepted that Brexit will happen, but that does not mean they are reconciled to its strategic implications.