LONDON — U.S. President Donald Trump lobbed a verbal hand grenade into Theresa May’s carefully constructed plans for Brexit, saying Thursday that the British leader had wrecked the country’s exit from the European Union and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States.
Trump, who is making his first presidential visit to Britain, told The Sun newspaper he had advised May on how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”
“She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on,” the president said.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid published an interview with Trump as May was hosting him at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Britain’s Second World War Prime Minister Winston Churchill — the leader who coined the term “special relationship” for the trans-Atlantic bond.
The Sun said the interview was conducted Thursday in Brussels, before Trump travelled to Britain. His remarks on Brexit came the same day May’s government published long-awaited proposals for Britain’s relations with the EU after it leaves the bloc next year.
The document proposes keeping Britain and the EU in a free market for goods, with a more distant relationship for services.
The plan has infuriated fervent Brexit supporters, who think sticking close to the bloc would limit Britain’s ability to strike new trade deals around the world. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis both quit the government this week in protest.
Trump came down firmly on the side of the Brexiteers. He said Johnson, May’s now ex-foreign secretary, “would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
Meanwhile, Trump said what May proposed on Brexit would hurt the chances of a future trade deal between the U.K. and the United States.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said.
He said “the deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.”
In fact, much of Britain’s division over Brexit — which has split the governing Conservative party and the public at large — stems from the June 2016 referendum on withdrawing from the EU not including language about would come next.
May’s government is trying to satisfy Britons who voted for their country to leave the bloc, but to set an independent course without hobbling businesses, security agencies and other sectors that are closely entwined with the EU.
May insisted earlier Thursday that her plan was exactly what Britons had voted for in the 2016 referendum.
“They voted for us to take back control of our money, our law and our borders,” she said. “That is exactly what we will do.”
Trump’s undiplomatic attack on May, his host, will likely raise the temperature around an already controversial visit. Thousands of people are expected to protest against the president in London on Friday, when a 20-foot (6-meter) balloon depicting the president as a screaming baby will be flown …read more
Source:: Nationalpost – News