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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson: Cousins maybe, but not twins

It can be deceptively easy to imagine maybe-president

It can be deceptively easy to imagine maybe-president Donald Trump, left, and possibly prime minister Boris Johnson as political twins. Photo Credit: Getty Images / AP

It can be deceptively easy to imagine maybe-president Donald Trump and possibly prime minister Boris Johnson as political twins.

Both come from upper-class families. Both were born in New York City. Both attended expensive schools, despite which both peddle a kind of populist nationalism.

Both effectively deposed the leadership of their nations’ purportedly conservative parties. Critics attack both on immigration and race. Both are controversial figures.

Both sport puzzling hairstyles. The popularity of both so far surprises many.

But there are key differences between the 52-year-old Briton and the 70-year-old American besides their ages.

Johnson is already a seasoned officeholder. He served as mayor of London and member of Parliament, each for seven years. At one point he worked for the European Commission in Brussels.

Trump, who inherited real estate, has always operated in the private sector, contributing to others’ campaigns. This is his first bid for elected office.

The books Trump has authored are mainly tributes to his self-proclaimed business success.

Johnson, as a conservative newspaper editor, crafted literate arguments against the European Union and has written books about Churchill and the Roman Empire, as well as a comic novel and even a “cautionary tale” about pushy parents.

Their tone of their discourse is quite different, too.

While Johnson has roiled the British left by favoring changes in immigration policy, he has said: “We can control our own borders in a way that is not discriminatory but fair and balanced.”

He also has said he seeks to “take the wind out of the sails of the extremists and those who would play politics with immigration.”

Unlike the tabloid-oriented Trump, Johnson has been married since 1993 to the same woman, lawyer and columnist Marina Wheeler.

And in his first news conference after the stunning Brexit vote, Johnson said he saw “no need for haste” and “nothing will change in the short term” regarding separation from the European Union.

One can only guess what messages Trump might send in the same situation, or what derisive names he might call whom.

Parallels are often crafted between those who hold the top jobs in the U.K. and the U.S.

Among the past pairings were Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, and Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

To really qualify for comparison, Johnson and Trump will need first to get elected. Their final victories remain to be determined.

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