Trump tells Britain to 'walk away' if EU won't yield on Brexit

LONDON • United States President Donald Trump said Britain should refuse to pay a US$50 billion (S$69 billion) European Union divorce bill and "walk away" from Brexit talks if Brussels does not give ground.

Mr Trump told British newspaper The Sunday Times ahead of a state visit to Britain, which starts today, that the next British leader should send arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage to conduct the EU talks.

Once Britain leaves the EU, which Mr Trump said must happen this year, then he would go "all out" to agree to a trade deal.

"They've got to get it done," he said in The Sunday Times interview. "They have got to get the deal closed."

British Prime Minister Theresa May will step down shortly after Mr Trump's visit, having failed to win backing for the Brexit divorce deal she negotiated with the EU.

Mr Trump said her successor should pursue a "no-deal" Brexit if he or she could not get more concessions from Europe by the end of October, when Britain is due to leave.

"If they don't get what they want, I would walk away," he said. "If you don't get a fair deal, you walk away."

The 13 candidates already in the leadership race are split between those willing to accept a "no-deal" Brexit and those who are opposed.

STAND FIRM

If they don't get what they want, I would walk away. If you don't get a fair deal, you walk away.

UNITED STATES PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, on how Britain should pursue a "no-deal" Brexit if it does not get more concessions from Europe by end-October.

 
 
 

In the "no-deal" camp are former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, whom Mr Trump praised in an interview with The Sun newspaper last Friday, along with former Brexit minister Dominic Raab and current Interior Minister Sajid Javid.

Mr Trump said the US could work "very, very quickly" on a trade deal if Britain was not constrained by a transition period agreed with Brussels.

US Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson said any such trade deal would include agriculture and healthcare.

"In a trade deal, all things that are traded will be on the table," he told the BBC yesterday. Asked if that included healthcare, he replied: "I would think so."

Concerns have been raised in Britain about accepting US agricultural standards, notably chlorine-washed chickens, and about opening up its state-funded healthcare system to US companies as the price of a trade deal.

"American products would come over and be allowed to come over," Ambassador Johnson told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"You give the British people a choice - if they like it, they can buy it; if they don't want it, they do not have to buy it."

Mr Trump said it was a mistake for the Conservatives not to involve Mr Farage, the Brexit Party leader, in negotiations with Brussels after his success in European Parliament elections.

"I like Nigel a lot. He has a lot to offer - he is a very smart person," Mr 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."

Mr Trump also said he would have "to know" Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn before authorising US intelligence to share its most sensitive secrets with a hard-left government.

He said Britain must be careful not to jeopardise intelligence-sharing by letting Chinese firm Huawei Technologies into its 5G mobile phone network.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2019, with the headline 'Trump tells Britain to 'walk away' if EU won't yield on Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe