Britain’s next Prime Minister should “walk away” from trying to clinch a Brexit deal with the EU if Brussels fails to yield to the UK’s demands, US President Donald Trump told the Sunday Times.
He also urged London to “sue” the EU in order to give Britain greater “ammunition” in the Brexit talks.
Touching upon outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump said “They’ve got to get it done. 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 said, adding that the UK should withdraw from the EU before the end of this year.
Referring to the hefty Brexit divorce bill, Trump said “if I were them, I wouldn’t pay 50 billion dollars; that is a tremendous number.”
Separately, he mentioned Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who Trump claimed should be at the helm of talks related to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
“I like Nigel a lot. He has a lot to offer — he is a very smart person. They won’t bring him in but think how well they would do if they did. They just haven’t figured that out yet,” Trump noted.
Farage, for his part, reportedly claimed that May’s office urged Trump not to meet him, berating the outgoing UK Prime Minister for being “petty” and “small minded”.
“It's absolutely ludicrous. I know they're worried about their Conservative Party but given that I've got good connections to him and many of the team around him and that they're our biggest military ally, intelligence ally, and very important investor in each other's countries. Why would you want to prevent a meeting between someone who knows the president well”, Farage was cited by the Daily Mail as saying.
His remarks come in the run-up to his official visit to Britain which kicks off on 3 June. During the visit, Trump is scheduled to meet May on Tuesday to discuss “many things” on the bilateral agenda, including those pertaining to trade and security, according to White House officials.
Her resignation came amid pressure from within the party and the continuing deadlock over the EU withdrawal agreement, which was rejected by the UK parliament three times.
The UK was initially supposed to leave the EU on 29 March. The sides agreed on a withdrawal deal, but British MPs refused to pass it, with the arrangement to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland being one of the main points of concern for parliament. Brussels then subsequently moved the deadline for London to 31 October.