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While the elections are approaching, Boris Johnson is trying to keep his distance from President Trump

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While Britain is entering the election campaign, President Trump's arrival for this week's NATO summit adds a fleeting new element to bitter divisions.

For years, Trump has praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose conservative party hopes to win a parliamentary majority in the December 12 vote. And the president is an unabashed supporter of Brexit, the planned split with the European Union that Johnson has promised to come true.

But the last thing Johnson wants during this visit is an open statement of support from Trump.

Trump is an unpopular figure in Britain, and Johnson & # 39; s main opponent, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, has already campaigned for fear that a post-Brexit Britain would be vulnerable to robbery by Trump & # 39; s Washington .

Johnson – himself not in favor of political norms – sounded almost nervous during a radio interview last week in which he stated that "what we traditionally do not do, as loving allies and friends … are involved in each other's election campaigns."

Some commentators suggested that such a tactful distance might be too little, too late, because Trump has already embraced so warmly, whose disruptive style is compared to that of the American president. Brian Klaas, a political scientist at University College London, tweeted that Trump is a & # 39; toxic political force here & # 39; is.

In Britain and elsewhere, Trump has ignored the long-standing diplomatic practice that forbids the US from jumping into the domestic policies of the allies. During a visit to London in July 2018, he humiliated former Prime Minister Theresa May by praising her political rivals and claiming that she could have saved herself a lot of trouble by following his advice on how to negotiate Brexit.

"I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't agree – she wasn't listening," he told a British tabloid that the unflattering interview, along with audio clips, hours before a joint news conference with the prime minister . When asked about the fact, with May by his side, Trump said he was quoted incorrectly.

Before the election campaign began last month, Trump had long cultivated a public bonhomie with Johnson – even greeting him as "Britain's Trump." In September, when the prime minister suffered serial defeats in Parliament from his Brexit proposals, Trump told reporters at the Oval Office: "Boris is a friend of mine … and he knows how to win."

Johnson finally got the legislator's approval for an EU withdrawal agreement that he hopes to implement soon after the elections.

Once the campaign started, Trump made it uncomfortable for Johnson when he suggested that the prime minister make an electoral pact with Nigel Farage's extreme right-wing Brexit party – which Corbyn, the Labor leader, immediately made an & # 39 ; Trump alliance & # 39; called. In the same interview, Trump also cast contempt on Corbyn, calling the Labor leader & # 39; so bad & # 39; and added: & # 39; He would take you to such bad places! & # 39;

A senior Trump administration official told reporters in a briefing prior to the trip last week that the president was "absolutely aware" that it would not be helpful to inform his host about the campaign. But if Trump gets out of the script, it would hardly be the first time.

During a visit like this, every British leader is more or less obliged to emphasize historical ties with the United States, especially in the context of a security-focused meeting such as the NATO summit on Wednesday. But Johnson's camp can use subtle diplomatic signals to distance itself from Trump, if only to a limited extent.

As host to the NATO meeting, the prime minister would normally have organized a bilateral meeting with the visiting American leader, but no one had been announced by the time Trump left for London on Monday. However, the summit and related ceremonial events, including a Tuesday night reception at Buckingham Palace, will likely produce a number of tete-a-tete images of Trump and Johnson – and Corbyn is ready to pounce.

The Labor leader claimed last week that a leaked government file on preparatory US-British trade talks pointed to post-Brexit danger to the National Health Service, the much-criticized but beloved universal health care system in Britain. During campaign events, Labor and other opposition parties among American and Johnson users have heightened the specter of American-style healthcare costs for British consumers.

"We will never let Donald Trump take over our National Health Service!", Corbyn stated during one rally after another.

Johnson has insisted that the NHS will not be part of trade negotiations. But an analyst at the Nuffield Trust, a British healthcare-specialized think tank, told the BBC that although there appeared to be no planned sale of assets such as hospitals, the documents suggested that efforts would be made to increase UK market share. open for US pharmaceutical companies.

Another potentially sensitive British domestic problem is last week's stabbing attack in central London, where two people were killed alongside the attacker, who was shot by the police. In the aftermath of high-profile terrorist attacks in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, Trump has often provided unsolicited comments on security measures he claims to have taken, or has criticized harsh officials such as the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

After the London Bridge stabbing, Johnson blamed Labor for policies that led to the early release of the killed attacker, who had previously been imprisoned for terror-related charges. This triggered an angry reaction from the family of one of the victims, who accused the prime minister of exploiting the tragedy for political gain.

But Corbyn has also unleashed a sharp language about the attack and blamed the support of successive British governments for US policies in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Some commentators saw echoes of Trump & # 39; s polarizing style in the discord. During the attack on London Bridge, passers-by, including an immigrant worker from Poland, spontaneously took up the fight against the attacker, who was wearing a fake suicide jacket. So the attack was seen in many circles as an inspiring expression of courage and solidarity in the face of tragedy – before the political bickering began.

Legislator Chuka Umunna, who is a candidate for Parliament with the Liberal Democrats of the opposition, wrote in an ed-in in the Independent newspaper that Johnson and Trump share an eerie ability to divide their countrymen instead of sharing them bring.

"They are two peas in a pod," he wrote. "No wonder it looks like Johnson is trying to distance himself from his friend Trump."

Special correspondent Boyle reported from London and staff writer King from Washington.

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