London: US President-elect Donald Trump has hailed Brexit as a “great thing”, saying the UK was “smart” to have voted to leave the European Union and forecast that other countries would follow Britain’s lead to leave the bloc.
In his first British interview with ‘The Times’ newspaper, the billionaire-businessman-turned-politician also promised that a trade deal between the US and UK will be signed “very quickly” under his presidency.
“I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” Trump said on Sunday about Britain’s referendum vote in June last year to leave the 28-member bloc.
Trump was interviewed for The Times by former UK justice secretary Michael Gove, a writer and MP from Britain’s ruling Conservative Party who was a leading figure in the anti-EU campaign.
“People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity, but I do think if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees then you wouldn’t have a Brexit…I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it (EU) together is not going to be as easy as a lot of people think,” he said.
Asked specifically about a potential US-UK trade deal, he said: “Absolutely, very quickly. I am a big fan of the UK, we are gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.
“I will be meeting with (British Prime Minister Theresa May)…Shes requesting a meeting and well have a meeting right after I get into the White House and…were going to get something done very quickly.”
Outgoing US President Barack Obama had said in April last year that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” if it quit the EU.
Trump dismissed that statement, saying: “Obama said, ‘They’ll go to the back of the line,’ and then he had to retract his statement.”
Gove, a prominent Leave campaigner during last year’s referendum on Britains membership of the EU, is also a columnist for the ‘Times’.
His questions covered a wide range of questions around US-UK ties in a post-Brexit era as well as wider international issues.
Trump blamed the decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to welcome refugees fleeing war in the Middle East, for jeopardising the stability of Europe.
“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from,” he said.
In the simultaneous interview with German newspaper ‘Bild’, Trump said he might contemplate tightening restrictions on Europeans wanting to travel to the US.
“I mean, were talking here about parts of Europe, parts of the world and parts of Europe, where we have problems, where they come in and cause problems. I dont want to have these problems,” he said