Visiting US President Donald Trump’s public endorsement of politician Boris Johnson means there can be no doubt at all about who will succeed Teresa May as the next British Prime Minister.
Some 13 Conservative Party politicians have declared themselves as candidates for the top job, but Trump’s unexpected intervention on the eve of his state visit to the UK amounts to casting his seal of approval for only one of the contenders.
By describing Johnson in a newspaper interview as a “friend” and someone who “would do a very good job” has revealed who he favours, effectively telling all others to back off.
In any other country or culture such unprecedented interference in another country’s internal politics would have a negative impact. But in this case winning the approval of Trump – or any other past or future US President – is deemed vital for a country that depends so heavily on the US for everything.
The cultural links between the two countries are taken for granted (Shakespeare is just as revered across the Atlantic, but what really matters is intelligence sharing and defence collaboration. London today is overwhelmingly dependant on Washington to understand what is happening in the world’s trouble spots, just as it relies on the Americans to stock its arsenal of nuclear bombs, nuclear submarines and intercontinental missiles.
The endorsement of the US president is accordingly vital for any incoming British Prime Minister. Boris Johnson may be mocked by his critics as Trump’s poodle, but the incoming prime minister knows he has the only backing he needs.