By Madina Sakho Ba
Both have bizarre yellow hair, make the same faces, and have a history of alleged adultery. As well as having both coming from privileged backgrounds, using morally ambiguous business tactics, and never-ending self-promotion. Such mirroring comparisons have recently sent a shiver through the nation’s spine, but how similar are the two men? Is the image of ‘Trump twins’ all just a publicity ploy? Fingers crossed.
On Tuesday the 24th of July 2019, Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Succeeding Theresa May as the leader of the Conservative Party, and as the head of the country’s government. Not elected by any public vote, I must point out.
In the aftermath of this, Donald Trump has remarked: “they call him Britain Trump and people are saying that’s a good thing. They like me over there. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they need.” Trump seems to enjoy the comparisons, despite the fact that only a quarter of Brits actually approve of his presidency. We only need recall his last visits to the UK that sparked thousands of protests, to understand what the country ‘likes’, ‘wants’ and ‘needs’.
Considering that an Opinium poll found that over 50% of British adults believed President Trump to be ‘dangerous’ and ‘not trustworthy’, is it a huge stretch or an ominous reality to believe that he and Mr Johnson are truly similar?
Indeed, there are undeniable similarities between the two world leaders.
President Trump was born into preposterous privilege and Boris Johnson into an upper middle class family; both in New York. Donald Trump through his father’s real-estate and Boris through his background of nobles and academics. Boris Johnson is the product of an elitist and conservative upbringing, both politically and socially. While
President Trump received loans of at least $60.7 million from his father, a real-estate developer, stated a 2018 investigation by the New York Times. Giving both men a leg-up in life from the get-go, to say the least.
Furthermore, both men used their influence in the media to catalyze their political careers; The President from his role on The Apprentice and our PM from his position as a political columnist amongst various appearances on popular TV including Have I Got News For You.
Neither leader is known for sustaining an allegiance to any set of moral, conscientious political views. Donald Trump has changed parties five times, most likely according to which at the time benefitted his personal wealth and interests the most.
Boris Johnson, on the other hand, is a one-nation conservative who supports many socially and economically liberal policies despite supporting the Leave campaign and some much harder right positions. Over the years, He has largely adhered to the strict Conservative attitudes and demands but has however adopted a more socially liberal stance on issues such as LGBT rights in parliamentary votes.
Nevertheless, the PM and President are renowned for making hateful comments that often ostracise minority groups. Boris Johnson has referred to the black community as “piccaninnies” calling the Congolese “tribal warriors” with “watermelon smiles”. He didn’t stop there; he also wrote that the resignation of a gay member from the Labour Party cabinet would elicit tears from “tank-topped bumboys” in London night clubs. He has has also deemed Islam “a problem” and wrote that it is “absolutely ridiculous” for women who wear burqas to be allowed to “go around looking like letterboxes”. Which is highly ironic considering the PM has a history of Muslim blood in his family heritage.
Donald Trump, of course, has also produced his fair share of offensive comments, such as declaring that “laziness is a [genetic] trait in blacks”. As well as famously recommending to “grab them [women] by the pussy”.
I could go on with an endless amount of derogatory, cringe-worthy and highly offensive comments these two men have said throughout their careers. Proving that they are not just buffoons, but one may go so far as saying morally corrupt. A stark contrast to Barack Obama, hey?
Furthermore, the President and the Prime Minister have been involved in numerous scandals surrounding their private lives including multiple allegations of adultery. Donald Trump has been accused with various degrees of inappropriate behaviour such as sexual harassment and rape. However, none of these allegations have led to charges.
There has also been lots of controversy surrounding Boris Johnson’s new relationship with Carrie Symonds oft reflecting prior controversy surrounding notable affairs; notably the affair with Helen Macintyre with whom he fathered an estranged child which he denied parentship of for many years. There have recently been recordings of Ms Symonds shouting at the PM to “get off me”, causing major bad press and public opinion of the new PM.
However, despite all these similarities the two do have stark differences as well, for instance, unlike Donald Trump, Boris Johnson wasn’t widely elected into power. He was chosen by the members of the Conservative Party which amounts to roughly 0.2% of the British population. President Trump, on the other hand, was elected by 63 million American voters. Although, still less than half the population.
In terms of political involvement, the PM has far more experience than his American counterpart. With 10 years of experience serving as the Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary. As opposed to Trump’s complete lack of political experience and thus knowledge of the workings of the political systems.
The two world leaders also hold differing views on immigration, President Trump holds a much harsher stance. He wants to reinforce immigration prevention laws, such as the border wall to ‘keep the Mexicans out’, as they supposedly in his eyes are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”.
Boris Johnson has also worked to spark fear-mongering towards EU immigrants as a reason to back Brexit before the 2016 referendum. However, he has been more nuanced than President Trump in signalling his support in giving amnesty to 500,000 undocumented asylum seekers.
In short, is the PM the UK’s version of Donald Trump? There are certainly many similarities between the two but also some important differences as well that we must not turn a blind eye to. Boris Johnson might appear to be the most recognisable as the closest thing to Donald Trump in the UK at the moment.
But with the international populist wave seeming to be reaching its apotheosis, it appears that nearly every country has its own version of Donald Trump coming out of the woodwork. In France, it’s Marine Le Pen. In Brazil, the horrifying Jair Bolsonaro. Articles on these political figures are to come in following editions.
Image credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (left) Sgt Jette Carr (right)