TURNBERRY, Scotland (Reuters/AFP) - United States Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Scotland to reopen a golf resort, said on Friday (June 24) he thought that Britain's vote to leave the EU was "fantastic", and drew parallels to his own campaign.
"I think it's going to be great. I think it's a fantastic thing," Mr Trump told reporters at Turnberry, a golf course he owns in south-west Scotland. He said Britons "took back control of their country" by voting for a Brexit.
Thrusting himself into the heart of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, Mr Trump drew parallels on Friday to his own campaign to limit illegal immigration and build a wall at the US border with Mexico. “I see a big parallel. I think people really see a big parallel. A lot of people are talking about that, and not only the United States but other countries.”
“People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense. You see it with Europe – all over Europe,” said Mr Trump. “You’re going to have many other cases where they want to take their borders back, they want to take they’re monetary back, they want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again.
“So I think you’re going to have this happen more and more. I really believe that and I think that it’s happening in the United States. It’s happening by the fact that I’ve done so well in the polls.”
Mr Trump assailed as inappropriate Democratic President Barack Obama’s open appeals to Britain not to split off. Shaking off a tradition of not commenting on US politics from foreign soil, Mr Trump said Mr Obama had been embarrassed. “It’s something he shouldn’t have done. It’s not his country. It’s not his part of the world. He shouldn’t have done it. And I actually think that his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump arrived in his signature helicopter at Turnberry near his clubhouse resort, a Scottish flag blowing in the wind.
Weeks ago, Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the Nov 8 presidential election, said he would be inclined to leave the EU.
He has exchanged insults with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported staying in the EU and said after the vote he would resign by October.
The wealthy New York businessman stopped to take questions from reporters after arriving in his signature helicopter at Turnberry near his clubhouse resort, a Scottish flag blowing in the wind.
Asked about Thursday's down-to-the-wire British vote, Mr Trump said: "People are angry, all over the world, they're angry."
Mr Trump, who turned 70 this month, added: "They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over. Nobody even knows who they are. They're angry about many, many things."
Asked if he meant in the United States or the United Kingdom, Mr Trump said: "There's plenty of other places. This will not be the last."
On Friday he told reporters: "I said this was going to happen and I think that it's a great thing."
Wearing a white hat emblazoned with his "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, Mr Trump walked up the steps towards the clubhouse with daughter Ivanka and son Eric.
Two bagpipers walked ahead of them.
Mr Trump was visiting the golf resort in his family's ancestral homeland to showcase his far-flung business empire. His mother was born on Scotland's Isle of Lewis.
Mr Trump scheduled a news conference on the 9th hole at noon local time.
His visit to Turnberry, to be followed by a stop at his resort in Aberdeen on Saturday, coincides with a British decision that exposes deep divisions and deals the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War II.
"Just arrived in Scotland," Mr Trump posted on Twitter. "Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!"
As it happened, Scotland voted by a margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain in the EU, a result that put it sharply at odds with Britain as a whole, which voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave.
Republicans had cautioned that Mr Trump, who has yet to hold public office and rates unfavourably with 70 per cent of Americans in an opinion poll, risked making a foreign policy misstep at a time when Republican leaders are urging a more serious demeanor.
The last Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in 2012 made a gaffe-filled campaign trip to London, Jerusalem and Poland.
Mr Trump’s rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, said in a statement: “This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests.
“It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down,”said Mrs Clinton, 68, a former US secretary of state, who had openly favored Britain’s remaining in the EU.
More than half a million Britons signed a petition earlier this year to bar Mr Trump from entering Britain, where he has several business interests, in response to his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
British lawmakers decided against a ban as a violation of free speech.
Mr Trump had exchanged insults with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported staying in the EU and said on Friday, after the vote, he would resign by October.
Mr Cameron had called Mr Trump's anti-immigrant policy ideas divisive and wrong.
Mr Trump's trip has baffled Republican officials who say he should concentrate on strengthening his campaign and taking the fight to the presumptive Democratic nominee, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is 68.
"I don't think opening a golf resort gets you many foreign policy chops," Mr Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said before Mr Trump left for Scotland. "But since he's there right in the middle of the EU vote, it may end up being a PR bonanza for him."
Mr Trump defeated a crowded field of opponents for the Republican nomination while weathering one controversy after another, the latest over his firing of his campaign manager this week, a month before the party convention.
Turnberry is a storied course where the Open Championship has been staged four times. Mr Trump invested US$290 million in renovating the resort and golf course on Scotland's West Coast 85km south-west of Glasgow.
Mr Trump has portrayed his determination to build up courses in Turnberry and Aberdeen and overcome local opposition as an example of the type of leadership skills that Americans would get if he wins the White House.