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UK risks becoming ‘Trump’s poodle’ if Boris Johnson wins election, Liberal Democrats warn

Chuka Umunna warns Tory victory will give PM ‘carte blanche’ to import demagoguery into UK

Andrew Woodcock
Politcal Editor
Sunday 24 November 2019 23:51 GMT
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump at the UN headquarters in New York
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump at the UN headquarters in New York (AFP/Getty)

Britain risks becoming “Donald Trump’s poodle” if Boris Johnson wins next month’s election and pushes through his “extreme” Brexit plan, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Chuka Umunna has warned.

Mr Umunna accused the prime minister of importing Donald Trump-style populist, right-wing, nationalist politics into the UK and warned that a Conservative victory on 12 December would give him “carte blanche” to continue it.

Speaking ahead of the Nato summit in London on 4 December, Mr Umunna announced that Lib Dems are committed to maintaining the UK’s commitments to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence and 0.7 per cent on international aid.

And he said that the defence budget would be £1 billion and the aid budget £340 million higher under the Lib Dems than Tories, because of the “Remain bonus” of stronger economic growth if Brexit is halted.

In a speech in the Lib Dem target seat of Watford on Monday, Mr Umunna will warn that if the UK leaves the EU under Mr Johnson’s leadership, it risks becoming “a vassal state of the United States”.

He will say: “Not only will we cease to be that important bridge between the EU and the US but by withdrawing from the European Union, inevitably Johnson will become more reliant on Trump in the short term if he is re-elected.

“Johnson is desperate to secure a US trade deal to make up for the damage done to our global standing if Brexit happens.

“From my own contacts with the US Government, it is clear a high price will be demanded and close alignment with US rules and regulation demanded – we risk becoming a vassal state of the US if Boris Johnson gets a majority. Leave the EU and the UK under Johnson will become President Trump’s poodle. That is what is at stake at this election.”

Warning of the increasing proliferation of populist leaders in countries around the world, Mr Umunna will say: “It was Trump, perhaps more than any other, who took this politics mainstream in the Western world. In his words and deeds he has been unafraid to engage in bigoted, racist, sexist, and Islamophobic behaviour, lie and break the law.

“All the same criticisms apply to the UK’s prime minister, who is following the Trump playbook and has become part of this global network of populist, right wing, authoritarian nationalists. Giving Johnson a majority is to give carte blanche to this type of politics in the UK - something which should worry us all.”

Mr Umunna will say that Lib Dems are best placed to “stop this calamity” and prevent Brexit by blocking an overall Conservative majority on 12 December.

“Only we can take seats from the Tories in significant numbers,” he said.

“Far from taking seats from Johnson, Labour is trying to defend its own from the Tories, particularly in the West Midlands, North East and Yorkshire. For the betting folks out there, Ladbrokes currently does not have Labour as favourites to win in any Tory-held seat – but it does with the Lib Dems.

“This highlights the crucial role voters have in Tory Lib Dem marginals in the coming weeks – stopping Brexit and stopping Boris Johnson’s extreme Brexit is the prize.”

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