President Donald Trump said Britain should refuse to pay its 39 billion pound EU divorce bill and “walk away” from Brexit talks if Brussels does not give the UK what it wants.
In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper ahead of his state visit to Britain starting Monday, Trump said the next British leader should send arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage to conduct talks with the EU.
Trump said Britain must leave the EU this year.
“They've got to get it done,” he said. “They have got to get the deal closed.”
“If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away. If you don’t get a fair deal, you walk away.”
Trump repeated his backing for those candidates to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May who have said Britain must leave on the due date of Oct. 31 with or without a deal.
Those candidates include former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, whom Trump praised in an interview with the Sun newspaper on Friday, along with former Brexit minister Dominic Raab and interior minister Sajid Javid.
Trump also said it was a mistake for the Conservatives not to involve Farage, the Brexit Party leader, in negotiations with Brussels after his success in European Parliament elections last month.
“I like Nigel a lot. He has a lot to offer - he is a very smart person,” Trump said. “They won’t bring him in but think how well they would do if they did. They just haven't figured that out yet.”
On the Brexit divorce bill, Trump said: “If I were them, I wouldn’t pay 50 billion dollars. That is a tremendous number.”
Trump also said he would have “to know” veteran Socialist Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn before authorizing U.S. intelligence to share its most sensitive secrets with a hard-left government.
He warned British ministers they must be careful not to jeopardize intelligence-sharing by letting Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd into Britain’s new 5G mobile phone network.
Separately, Tory leadership candidate Michael Gove told colleagues he is ready to delay Brexit until next year, rather than leave by the Oct. 31 deadline without a deal, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing a person close to the environment secretary.
Trump and Farage share an anti-globalist stance, a populist turn of phrase and recent electoral success, and they have championed each other.
May is stepping down on June 7 after failing to win parliamentary support for her withdrawal agreement with the EU. Officials in Brussels have repeatedly said the agreement won’t be renegotiated.
The U.K. government would like to avoid a meeting between Trump and Farage, though the decision rests with the U.S. leader, the Express said, citing a government source it didn’t identify. Farage’s campaign against EU membership was a crucial factor in shifting the political debate in the years before the Brexit vote in 2016.
If opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn comes to power, Trump said he would have to get to know him before authorizing U.S. intelligence agencies to share sensitive secrets. A Corbyn government must “get along” with the U.S. if it wants to benefit from the country’s military and intelligence support, he said.
Material from Bloomberg was used in this story.
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