Boris Johnson ‘muzzled’ Donald Trump by making him withdraw from an interview with Piers Morgan during the Tories’ campaign to win in 2019, new book reveals
- Johnson’s aides feared Trump’s endorsement could damage conservative popularity
Boris Johnson ‘muzzled’ Donald Trump by making him withdraw from an interview with Piers Morgan during the Tories’ campaign to win the 2019 general election, a new book has revealed.
Johnson’s aides feared that Trump’s support would hurt the Conservatives’ popularity ratings at a time when the party was making a big lead in the polls.
Trump was due to be interviewed by Morgan, then working for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, while visiting London for a NATO conference in December 2019.
But advisers warned that if Trump publicly expressed his admiration for Johnson, it would backfire.
Mr Johnson was told that the then US president had a “toxic” image in Britain and that this would damage his standing in the public eye.
“But it wasn’t until the former Prime Minister called the 45th US President (left) and told him not to speak to Mr Morgan (right) that the interview was officially cancelled.” Trump and Morgan are pictured together in New York, November 10, 2010
Political strategist Isaac Levido, who managed the Conservative election campaign later that year, was forced to end the interview with pleas to Morgan’s friend Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK, and contacts in the TV industry.
But it wasn’t until the former prime minister called the 45th US president and told him not to speak to Mr Morgan that the interview was officially cancelled.
Mr Johnson told the president: ‘Please, Donald, don’t do that. It would be useless,” said The Right To Rule, a book about the Tories’ thirteen years in power, written by Daily Telegraph political editor Ben Riley-Smith.
It adds: ‘Team Boris concluded that the supposed leader of the free world could not be trusted with his tongue’ and that Morgan ‘had a track record of getting the US president to cause chaos during British visits with unwritten comments’.
It continues: ‘Trump liked to call Johnson ‘Britain Trump’, perhaps because of their similarities in hairstyling, disregard for political norms and populist instincts. But in Britain, a Trump endorsement was poisonous.
“A phone call to Trump himself was used to secure a cancellation. The plea worked.”
According to the book, the issue did not stop there and was the subject of a heated debate at News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch’s Christmas party.
President Donald Trump meets British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Mr Morgan found a senior member of Mr Johnson’s team at the bash and began ‘expressing his frustration’ to them at having lost the interview.
The book refers to two sources who confirm the phone call between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump.
Mr Johnson declined to comment.