- Boris Johnson rejected a request for a face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump.
- Johnson, the frontrunner to replace Theresa May as prime minister, told Trump he was too busy to meet him during his state visit to the United Kingdom.
- The two men talked on the phone and agreed to meet at a later date.
- Trump’s visit is controversial in the UK with opinion polls suggesting the president is a highly unpopular figure among British people.
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LONDON – Boris Johnson has rejected a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump in a significant snub for the president, who this week backed the former foreign secretary as an “excellent” candidate to replace Theresa May.
The president lavished praise on Johnson last week, as a “friend” and “very good guy” and compared him favourably to the current prime minister.
However, while the two men spoke on the phone on Monday, Johnson turned down the opportunity for a one-on-one meeting, citing his planned attendance at a Conservative leadership hustings event on Tuesday afternoon.
Johnson’s office told ITV News that they wanted the rejection to be seen as a sign of how seriously he is taking the race to be the United Kingdom’s next prime minister.
“Trump called Boris and asked for a one-to-one meeting,” ITV’s Robert Peston reported.
“Boris thanked him but declined the invitation as he has to focus on the hustings event that was happening at the same time.
They added: “Johnson said he looked forward to catching up at a later date.”
Trump will now instead meet later on Tuesday with Johnson’s leading rival for the job, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
The snub comes after recent opinion polling suggests the president remains very unpopular with British voters.
The most recent YouGov polling finds that just 13% of British voters believe he has been a good president.
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