President Donald Trump says he likes British pro-Brexiters Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – but he’s not endorsing in the race for prime minister.
‘I like them. I mean, they’re friends of mine, but I haven’t thought about supporting them,’ he said after he was asked for a meeting. ‘Maybe it’s not my business to support people. But I have a lot of respect for both of those men.’
Trump’s comment that it’s maybe not appropriate for him to endorse a successor to Theresa May, suggested he would stay out of the country’s politics during his trip to the U.K. next week.
President Donald Trump says he likes British pro-Brexiters Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – but he’s not endorsing in the race for prime minister
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party swept power in a European Parliament election. Johnson is vying for prime minister of the Conservative Party. Both are pro-Brexit and want the UK to leave the EU by Oct. 31
He suggested in an interview on the eve of his last trip to London that he preferred Johnson over May as PM.
‘I have a lot of respect for Boris,’ Trump said last July. ‘He obviously likes me and says very good things about me.’
He did not explicitly endorse the ex-Cabinet official as the next prime minister but shared his belief that he’d be a ‘great’ prime minister. ‘Well I am not pitting one against the other. I am just saying I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes.’
The U.S. president said that May, who was embattled over Brexit for more than a year before she resigned, would have been better off following his advice.
‘I would have done it much differently,’ he said of negotiations in an interview with The Sun. ‘I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me. She wanted to go a different route.’
He added, ‘The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.’
He apologized at a joint news conference with May. He said his comments were mischaracterized.
‘I didn’t criticize the PM. I have a lot of respect for the PM. A story was done that was generally fine but didn’t put in the tremendous things I say about the PM,’ he said.
Trump said all he personally cares about is the ability of the U.K. to trade with the U.S. unilaterally when it leave the EU.
‘The only thing I ask of Theresa is we make sure that we can trade and don’t have any restrictions. We want the U.K. to trade with us. We have a tremendous opportunity to double, triple or quadruple trade. If they’re going to go a certain route, I just said I hope they will be able to trade with the U.S. I read reports that said that would not be possible, but after speaking with the PM and her representatives, it seems that will be possible. We want to be able to trade and they want to be able to trade,’ he said.
As a candidate he promised to sign a deal with the U.K. ‘very very quickly’ after Brexit had taken place. For now, a mutual agreement to abide by current export standards is in place, ensuring that some trade will be immediately protected.
The timeline for the U.K’s exit from the EU was thrown into chaos when Parliament rejected May’s third attempt to get a Brexit agreement she negotiated with the EU approved by the body.
She told Conservative lawmakers at the end of March that she would step down as prime minister if they gave it their support. She ended up announcing her resignation a few weeks later, anyway, with her final day to come after Trump’s trip is over.
Her former foreign affairs minister, Johnson, leads a pack of candidates to replace her.
Farage’s name is also in the mix following the Leave Means Leave organizer’s reentry into politics.
An original founder of the UKIP party, he left the Conservative Party in 1992 and won a series of parliamentary elections as UKIP over the next decade. He officially stepped down in 2016 but remained active in U.K. politics and announced in March that he was making a comeback as head of the Brexit Party.
He told Tucker Carlson of Fox News in an interview this week, ‘I can’t stand aside. I can’t bear the fact we are having to send members of the European parliament back to Brussels.’
‘So I founded the Brexit Party, and would you believe within six weeks of a brand new party being set up, we topped the polls. We smashed the Conservative Party, we smashed the Labour Party, and regrettably I’m back here in Brussels, Tucker, after 20 years, once again, as a member of the European parliament,’ he stated.
Trump noted Wednesday as he left the White House that Farage’s Brexit Party had a ‘big victory’ and picked up 32 percent of the vote.
Farage is calling for the UK to leave the EU by Oct. 31 with or without a Brexit deal.
‘I promise that if we do not leave the EU on October 31st, I will lead The Brexit Party into the next general election and sweep away parties that have dominated British politics for over 100 years,’ Farage said in a Thursday morning tweet that was a redux of the Carlson interview.
Trump is visiting London, northern Ireland and France next week for D-Day events. He’ll meet with May while he’s there, but it’s unclear whether they will take questions at a side by side press conference.
He’ll also meet with the royal family, except Meghan Markle, who is still on maternity leave. She hasn’t been seen in public since the arrival of her son, Archie, and isn’t expected to join the royal family when Trump calls on them.