Boris Johnson ‘muzzled’ Donald Trump by getting him to pull out of an interview with Piers Morgan during the Tories’ campaign to win in 2019, new book reveals
- Johnson’s aides feared Trump endorsement could hurt Conservative popularity
Boris Johnson ‘muzzled’ Donald Trump by getting him to pull out of an interview with Piers Morgan during the Tories’ campaign to win the 2019 General Election, a new book reveals.
Mr Johnson’s aides feared endorsement by Mr Trump would harm the Conservatives’ popularity ratings at a time when the party was surging ahead in the polls.
Mr Trump was due to be interviewed by Mr Morgan, who was then working for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, while he was visiting London for a Nato conference in December 2019.
But advisers warned if Mr Trump publicly expressed his admiration for Mr Johnson, it would backfire.
Mr Johnson was told the then American President had a ‘toxic’ image in Britain and it would harm his standing in the public’s eye.
‘But it was only when the former Prime Minister telephoned the 45th American 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 headed the Conservatives’ election campaign later that year, was scrambled to kill the interview with entreaties made to Morgan’s friend Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK, and contacts in the TV industry.
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But it was only when the former Prime Minister telephoned the 45th American 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. It would be unhelpful,’ according to The Right To Rule, a book reviewing the Tories’ 13 years in power by the Daily Telegraph’s political editor Ben Riley-Smith.
It adds: ‘Team Boris concluded that the purported 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 mayhem during UK visits with unscripted remarks’.
It continues: ‘Trump liked to call Johnson ‘Britain Trump’ perhaps on account of their similarities in hair styling, disregard for political norms and populist instincts. But in the UK a Trump endorsement was toxic.
‘A call with Trump himself was used to secure a cancellation. The pleading worked.’
According to the book, the matter was not left there and was the subject of a heated debate at News Corp chair Rupert Murdoch’s Christmas party.
President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019
Mr Morgan found a senior member of Mr Johnson’s team at the bash and began to ‘express his frustration’ to them at having lost the interview.
The book refers to two sources confirming the phone call between Mr Johnson and Mr Trump.
Mr Johnson declined to comment.
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