Johnson on high alert as Trump visits UK ahead of polls
LONDON, Dec 2: President Donald Trump's arrival in the U.K. just 10 days before Britons head to the ballot box could spell trouble for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The U.S. president, who was scheduled to arrive in London on Monday, is likely to be pressed to comment on a range of hyper-sensitive political issues - ranging from the National Health Service (NHS) to prospective trade talks.
Britons head to the ballot box on Dec. 12, in a vote likely to decide both the fate of the U.K.'s departure from the European Union and the future direction of the world's fifth-largest economy.
Johnson has urged Trump not to get involved in the upcoming election, fearing he could say something that threatens to derail the Conservative Party's campaign. The sitting prime minister also said he would walk out of trade talks with the U.S. if the health service was a pre-condition to negotiations.
Trump has typically been unafraid to comment on a wide range of U.K. election issues, with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn often quick to use the U.S. president's praise of Johnson as a key attack line against the Conservatives.
Corbyn has warned a Conservative-led trade deal with the U.S. could drive up the price of medicines, warning Johnson's party would sell-off parts of the health service to U.S. business after Brexit.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted the state-run NHS would not be on the table in any trade talks. "Trump doesn't have a filter. It won't matter if his advisers tell him - or Boris pleads with him - not to speak about the election, the NHS, or what Britain will have to give up to the United States in a prospective trade deal," Brian Klaas, a professor of global politics at University College London, told CNBC via email.
"He also has a very limited understanding of British political sensitivities. In previous visits, it wasn't clear that he knew what the NHS was, let alone how sensitive it is for an American president to speak about it," he added. -CNBC