July 23, 2019 / 12:18 PM / 6 months ago

Trump says new Prime Minister Johnson 'will be great'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) as they take part in a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday heralded the selection of Boris Johnson as the new leader of Britain’s governing Conservative Party and the United Kingdom’s next prime minister, in a possible sign of warmer relations between the two allies.

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” Trump said in a post on Twitter shortly after Johnson’s election.

Trump has had tense relations with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May despite being hosted for a state visit. Ties were further strained this month following leaked messages by the British ambassador to Washington that referred to Trump; the official later quit.

The U.S. president has repeatedly praised Johnson, the flamboyant former London mayor and pro-Brexit champion who has been compared to the Republican U.S. president, a former reality television host and real estate developer known for his unconventional, combative approach to politics.

Johnson was the overwhelming favourite to win Tuesday’s Conservative Party election despite a chaotic private life and a reputation for lies, exaggeration, a lack of seriousness and discipline. He replaces May, who stepped down after failing to deliver on her Brexit plan to leave the European Union.

Like Trump, Johnson has led a country-first campaign and will now lead a heavily divided nation.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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