President Donald Trump talks trade with Boris Johnson at G-7 summit
BIARRITZ, France — It was a meeting of like minds and mop-tops.
President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, sometimes ridiculed by critics as “Britain’s Trump,” talked trade and other issues at a breakfast meeting Sunday on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in southwest France.
The meeting was their first since Johnson succeeded Theresa May as prime minister in July.
“You know who this is?” Trump said, gesturing toward Johnson. “He’s going to be a fantastic prime minister.”
Asked about what advice he might have for Johnson on Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union, Trump said Johnson needs no advice.
“He’s the right man for the job,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time.”
“He’s on message here,” Johnson quipped.
Johnson, who is making his debut on the world stage at the gathering of the leaders of the world’s most industrialized economies, is a Trump admirer who, like the American president, is noted for, among other things, an unruly blondish-white mane.
Johnson, a former London mayor who served as foreign secretary in May’s cabinet, is often compared to Trump — and not necessarily as a form of flattery.
For his part, Trump senses a “kindred spirit” in the blunt-spoken, gaffe-prone Johnson, said Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Trump has expressed admiration for Johnson, and the two have talked multiple times since Johnson’s election as prime minister. Trump has called Johnson “smart” and “tough” and predicted he would be a great prime minister.
But for all their similarities, the two differ on a number of issues, such as climate change and Chinese investment, Conley said.
Over Sunday’s breakfast of scrambled eggs, veal sausage and toast, Johnson was planning to push for a trade deal with the United States before the United Kingdom exits the European Union on Oct. 31.
“I know there will be some tough talks ahead,” Johnson said, but he stressed that he remained optimistic.
“There are clearly huge opportunities for the U.K. to penetrate the American market,” he said.
Trump said a trade deal “bigger than we’ve ever heard” could happen quickly.
After the meeting, the two leaders issued a joint statement stressing the importance of “free, fair and reciprocal trade” and said they discussed opportunities for deepening the trading relationship between the two countries.
They also have directed U.S. National Security Adviser Larry Kudlow and British Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill to launch a special working group to develop market-oriented principles for economic growth and increase bilateral cooperation on issues concerning the 21st century economy.
Meanwhile, Johnson told reporters while en route to France on Saturday that he was concerned about the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China and suggested “a dialing down” of tensions.
Asked Sunday if other G-7 leaders were pressuring him to end the trade war, Trump said, “No. Not at all. … Nobody’s told me that.”
But Trump suggested he might be having second thoughts about the trade spat with Beijing, saying, “I have second thoughts about everything.”
G-7 summit in France: Mon dieu! Trump arrives amid tensions, threat of tariffs on French wines
Trump, who also meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, said the U.S. is nearing a trade deal with Japan.
“We’re fairly close,” he said.
Abe, speaking through an interpreter, said the relationship between the U.S. and Japan is strong and that there is “robust trust” between the two countries.
Earlier Sunday, Trump tweeted about one of his favorite targets — the media — over reports of tension between him and other G-7 leaders.
“Before I arrived in France, the Fake and Disgusting News was saying that relations with the 6 others countries in the G-7 are very tense, and that the two days of meetings will be a disaster,” he said.
He accused the media of “trying to ‘will’ America” into a recession to hurt his chances of re-election.
“Well, we are having very good meetings, the Leaders are getting along very well, and our Country, economically, is doing great — the talk of the world!” he wrote.
Trump also met one-on-one Sunday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with whom he has had a sometimes rocky relationship.
At last year’s G-7 summit in Canada, Trump bolted from the gathering early, refused to sign a joint communique with the other leaders and then launched a Twitter attack against Trudeau over trade.
But there was no sign of tension between the two leaders on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters at the start of the meeting, Trudeau said the U.S. and Canadian economies are doing well in part because of a new trade agreement the two countries reached last year with Mexico.
Trump said the U.S. will significantly expand trade with Canada once the agreement is finalized.