Tories scramble to distance themselves from Trump after coup attempt

They're trying to re-write history.

After Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to break into Congress, Conservative politicians across the UK are trying to make out they never supported the outgoing President.

As Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP and editor of Conservative Home put it: “Conservative MPs, publications and activists will condemn the President, suggest that they’ve never had any time for him, and hint that were they Americans they would have voted for Joe Biden instead.”

But, the veteran Conservative, pointed out: “It is necessary for the record to point out that this is far from being the whole story.

Among those finally (almost) criticising Donald Trump was Boris Johnson himself.

But Johnson and Trump have were political allies even before Johnson became Prime Minister. In a meeting with then PM Theresa May, Trump asked why Johnson wasn’t the party’s leader.

When he did become leader, Trump told crowds of supporters unprompted that Johnson was “a really good man”, “tough”, “smart” and “Britain Trump”. At which, Trump’s supporters cheered loudly.

The praise was reciprocated. In 2018, Johnson told Sky News: “If [Trump] can fix North Korea and if he can fix the Iran nuclear deal then I don’t see why he’s any less of a candidate for the Nobel peace prize than Barack Obama.” He was similarly positive with US diplomats, telling them privately that Trump was making America great again.

Another back-tracker is Michael Gove who re-tweeted Johnson’s condemnation yesterday. But he was one of the first to suck up to the US President. When Trump was still just President-elect, Gove flew to New York to interview him for The Times.

While Gove claimed to be acting as a journalist, the interview was fawning and The Times owner and then Trump supporter Rupert Murdoch was in the room. The post-interview photo sums up the atmosphere. It was hardly Frost/Nixon.

Another early Trump supporter is the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. In 2016, Trump looked unlikely to win and most Conservative politicians diplomatically refused to say who they were supporting.

Not Rees-Mogg though. Without even the excuse of sucking up to the powerful, he told the BBC he would “almost certainly” vote Republican if he was American. He continued to support Trump throughout his time in power and has yet to condemn the storming of the Capitol.

Even more moderate, Remain-voting Tories like Jeremy Hunt helped enable and legitimise Trump. Hunt may condemn him now but when it mattered he supported him.

Just before Trump touched down for 2019’s state visit, he tweeted that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan was “short” and a “stone cold loser”.

When asked about these comments, Hunt blamed Khan for his criticism (which was political not personal) of Trump and attacked Labour for boycotting the state visit. He called Trump “the leader of the free world and our closest ally”.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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