02:11 - Source: CNN
Why Boris Johnson wants to suspend Parliament
Washington CNN  — 

Britain was only hours into what could be its biggest constitutional crisis since World War II when President Donald Trump barged in.

He lionized Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister asked the Queen to suspend parliament, a move that makes it harder for lawmakers to stop the UK crashing out of the European Union.

And Trump, abandoning any pretense that foreign leaders should stay out of other nations’ internal affairs, slammed the leader of Britain’s opposition who may now try to bring Johnson down.

“Would be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be “a great one!” Love U.K.,” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s Westminster analysis is debatable, but it’s no surprise Johnson’s political earthquake pleased the President.

Trump can’t stand the EU – it’s just the kind of multinational organization that pools sovereignty that he abhors. He’s also betting Johnson is a populist in his own image who’ll move the UK away from Europe and into his America First gang.

A move from Trump’s playbook

Trump might also identify with Johnson’s daring. Any attempt to bypass parliament on a crucial constitutional question could be plucked from the Trump playbook.

The President has consistently sought to maximize his own power by outflanking lawmakers – for instance in financing his border wall.

Were he to study the intricacies of British politics, Trump might also envy Johnson’s room for maneuver.

While many of his own power grabs have been thwarted by the Constitution and the courts, UK democracy runs on an arcane set of unwritten precedents and customs that may give a resourceful Prime Minister more leeway than a President.

Trump has long loved Brexit – an uprising that foreshadowed his own establishment-rocking election in 2016.

But it is not a given that Johnson, who is trying to build a relationship with Trump despite the President’s deep unpopularity in Britain, will welcome his intervention.

The tweet will bolster arguments of Johnson’s opponents that he is acting on the kind of anti-constitutional and authoritarian impulses they see embodied in Trump.

Corbyn quickly hit back at Trump, seeking to create political capital from the US President’s tweet and to turn it against Johnson.

“I think what the US president is saying, is that Boris Johnson is exactly what he has been looking for, a compliant Prime Minister who will hand Britain’s public services and protections over to US corporations in a free trade deal,” Corbyn tweeted.

Trump’s intervention not necessarily good news for Johnson

Interventions by US Presidents in the Brexit debate sometimes backfire. Trump’s cheerleading for and friendship with anti-Europe populist Nigel Farage limit his wider appeal in the UK.

Former President Barack Obama thought he was helping but ultimately hurt remainers when he said the UK would go to “the back of the queue” for a trade deal with the US if it voted to leave the EU. Britons, of any political stripe, don’t like being told what to do by more powerful American cousins.

While Trump sees Johnson as one of the band of disruptive, populist leaders that he inspires – like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, or Hungary’s Viktor Orban, the British Prime Minister may not want to join the club.

At the G7 summit in France, Johnson criticized Trump’s China trade war – even if he admitted to doing in a “sheep-like” way.

CNN reported that Johnson rejected Trump’s push to get Russian President Vladimir Putin back into a reconstituted G8. And Britain backs the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.

Johnson is seeking a sweet spot where the UK can maintain close security and diplomatic ties with Europe as an ex-EU member. But he understands Britain will need to swiftly conclude a trade deal with the United States and will need Washington more than ever after going it alone.

Trump, for all his professions of love for the UK and friendship with Johnson, will drive a hard bargain in those talks – especially on agriculture and access for US pharmaceuticals to Britain’s revered National Health Service.

So Trump’s gushing support Wednesday might look welcome, but it could cause a future headache for the Prime Minister.