The Conservative Party’s fondness for Republican politics goes back generations, and affections have grown in recent years as Brexiteers have held up a prospective American trade deal as the reward for a sharp split from the European Union.
But some analysts were struck this week by just how obsequious some of the leadership contenders’ appeals to Mr. Trump had become. Enthusiasm for the president, once confined to the party’s rightmost wing, seemed to travel to the mainstream as lawmakers vied for the votes of some 160,000 party members who tend to be stridently anti-Europe.
Mr. Gove, the environment secretary and a leadership hopeful from the moderate wing, once called Mr. Trump “an intemperate, bullying, foul-mouthed panderer.” Mr. Trump asked to meet with him anyway, though Mr. Gove said the two only managed to chat briefly at a banquet on Monday night.
Another candidate, Sajid Javid, the home secretary, met Mr. Trumpfor a short time on Wednesday.
Mr. Hunt, the foreign secretary, sat down with Mr. Trump on Tuesday night, a few hours after Mr. Trump singled him out as a potential prime minister. Mr. Hunt has repaid the president’s affection, defending him after Mr. Trump greeted his hosts by calling London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, a “stone-cold loser” and making fun of his short stature on Twitter.
“Well,” Mr. Hunt said, “the elected mayor of London has made some pretty choice insults about Donald Trump.”
Esther McVey, a hard-line Brexiteer running to succeed Mrs. May, took the same tack, blaming Mr. Khan for criticizing the president and calling him “churlish, childish.” Ms. McVey also adopted Mr. Trump’s stance on a no-deal Brexit, saying in a statement: “The U.S. president is right about the need for us to be serious about walking away from the E.U. without a deal.”