President Donald Trump encouraged the United Kingdom to “walk away” from any negotiations with the European Union
if the country is unable to secure a favorable Brexit deal.
“If you don’t get the deal you want, if you don’t get a fair deal, then you walk away,” Trump said in an interview published Sunday in The Sunday Times ahead of his first official state visit to the U.K.
Trump’s comments come as British politics remain on edge. The country is scheduled to leave the E.U. on October 31, after delaying its original departure date by months due to a lack of political consensus in Britain.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation earlier last month after repeatedly failing to gain support for the withdrawal deal she negotiated with the E.U. Parliament rejected the withdrawal deal three times and May was unable to win backing for it to pass in a fourth vote.
Trump also said he “wouldn’t pay” the $50 billion so-called “divorce bill” to settle the U.K.’s financial obligations with the E.U.: “I’m only saying this from my stand point. I would not pay, that’s a tremendous number,” Trump said.
A number of leading Brexit supporters are calling for the U.K. to prepare to leave the E.U. without any deal at all, which means Britain would have no trade arrangement with the bloc, likely resulting in economic disruption.
Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has thrown in his hat to succeed May as Conservative Party leader, has said that Britain will leave the E.U. in October with or without a deal.
Trump praised Johnson’s bid to succeed May in an interview with The Sun newspaper published on Friday. The president said that Johnson would make an “excellent” prime minister.
“I actually have studied it very hard. I know the different players. But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent. I like him. I have always liked him,” Trump told The Sun newspaper.
Trump dangled a trade deal between the United States and Britain, saying his administration would “work on it very, very quickly.”
“I’d go all out,” Trump told The Times. “It would be a great advantage for UK. One of the advantages of Brexit is the fact that you can deal with the number one country by far, we’re the number one by far in terms of every metric in terms of an economy.”
The president’s three-day visit to the U.K. begins Monday.
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