US ambassador leaves door open to Trump meeting with Johnson
PUBLISHED: 10:27 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:29 11 July 2018
US ambassador Woody Johnson has left the door open for a possible meeting between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump during the US president's visit to London.
The ambassador said that while a meeting was not currently on Mr Trump's itinerary "the president makes his own schedule", the day after the American leader said he may make time to meet his "friend" the former foreign secretary.
A meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Johnson, who quit on Monday over Theresa May's Chequers Brexit deal, is likely to prove embarrassing for the prime minister as she attempts to assert control over the warring Conservative Party.
Woody Johnson was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today whether he would facilitate a meeting if asked. He replied: "Yes. We will make everything possible - if the president wants to do something we will make it possible.
"Boris Johnson has been a friend of the president, was a friend during the election of the president so I think he has a warm and close relationship with him."
Asked if this risked upsetting Mrs May, he added: "I think you have to give all these protagonists, whether it's the prime minister or the President, a little leeway here.
"If the president wants to do it and feels it is appropriate to do it, he will make that decision."
On Tuesday, before leaving for the Nato summit in Brussels, Mr Trump suggested that he might take time during his UK visit to speak with former foreign secretary Mr Johnson, who he described as "a friend of mine".
Answering questions from reporters on the lawn of the White House as he and his wife Melania prepared to board the Marine One presidential helicopter, Mr Trump said: "Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He's been very, very nice to me, very supportive. Maybe I'll speak to him when I get over there.
"I like Boris Johnson, I've always liked him."
He also described the UK as "in somewhat turmoil", and said Mrs May's future as prime minister was "up to the people, not up to me".
Mr Johnson, the New York Jets American football team owner who was appointed UK ambassador in August last year, took a more conciliatory approach today
He told Today he was "confident in the ability of the UK to plough through this issue with Brexit and move on".
He added: "There is always turmoil in every country. I think the UK is proceeding the way it always does. It's a very confident, capable country."
Mrs May is an "amazing leader at this point where she has a fragile leadership, and being able to get through these issues the way she has is an example of strong leadership", he added.
Labour MP Gareth Thomas, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: "The US Ambassador is giving Trump the chance to help Boris keep undermining Theresa May.
Like Trump, Boris and the other Brexit extremists believe in reducing worker’s rights, are happy with ever increasing levels of inequality and prefer Russia and Vladimir Putin to our allies in Europe and NATO."