Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s scruffy, grandiloquent, and often bumbling new prime minister, has worked hard to fashion himself after Winston Churchill. In his speeches, Johnson often channels his “inner Churchill” and waxes nostalgic for Britain’s glorious past. He even sees himself as waging a heroic struggle against a European super-state, as Churchill did as Britain’s wartime prime minister.
Johnson will surely invoke another Churchillian precedent as he tries to steer his country away from the European Union and toward a closer bond with the United States. Churchill coined the term “special relationship” to described London’s privileged ties with Washington, and with Brexit approaching, Johnson will be similarly keen to capitalize on access to Washington.
Johnson seems to benefit in this endeavor from his chemistry with U.S. President Donald Trump, who can clearly see that the new British leader is different than his predecessor. Where Theresa May was prim and proper, Johnson is outlandish and mop-topped. Where May was cautious and reserved, Johnson is bold and flamboyant. Where May was a powerful woman, Johnson is most certainly a man. All this stands Johnson in good stead with Trump, who has rather ungrammatically praised him as “Britain Trump.”
Where Theresa May was prim and proper, Johnson is outlandish and mop-topped. Where May was cautious and reserved, Johnson is bold and flamboyant.
For many commentators, Trump’s affinity for Johnson means the two have an opportunity to rekindle the moribund special relationship, which today mostly lives on as a polite talking point in U.S.-U.K. press conferences. Yet, beyond the kind words, there is precious little evidence that Washington sees that relationship as special. There is even less reason to expect that the bromance between Johnson and Trump will turn things around.
Johnson’s predecessor found this out the hard way. When Trump took office in 2017, May probably believed that his support for Brexit would help her steer her country out of the European Union; Backing
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