Oct 31, 2019

Trump makes big pro-Brexit intervention in U.K. election

Trump and Farage in Mississippi. Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

President Trump encouraged Nigel Farage, the U.K.'s pro-Brexit provocateur, to "get together" with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver a Brexiteer victory in the upcoming general election, during a conversation Thursday on Farage's radio program on LBC.

Why it matters: Farage and Johnson are perhaps the two men most closely associated with Brexit, but they're leading competing parties into the Dec. 12 election. Johnson's Conservatives fear Farage's Brexit Party could play a spoiler role, denying them a parliamentary majority. Trump praised both Johnson and Farage effusively while claiming opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn would be "so bad for your country."

Context: Johnson had promised to deliver Brexit by tonight but was ultimately forced to accept an extension from the EU. He's running as the man who can get Brexit done, but Farage claims the deal Johnson struck with Brussels is far too soft.

  • Trump seemed to agree with Farage's claims, saying the deal would make a U.S.-U.K. trade deal difficult, but he said repeatedly that Johnson is the "exact leader" the U.K. needs.
  • "Boris and I have a great friendship," he said. "When he was running, they were saying, 'He's the Trump, he's the Trump.' We have a lot of the same things going, I guess. ... I think you needed him." (Farage's response was less enthusiastic).
  • "I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific. If you and he get together, it's an unstoppable force. And Corbyn would be so bad for your country, he'd be so bad, he'd take you in such a bad way," Trump said.

Corbyn has already accused Trump of "trying to interfere in Britain's election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected," a potentially potent line of attack given Trump's unpopularity in the U.K.

More from the interview
  • On British politics: Trump said he was "disappointed" Brexit had been delayed again, and he conceded that he and Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, didn't always see eye to eye.
  • On the EU: Trump said the U.K. would be much better off outside the bloc, adding controversially that Italy and other countries would be too.
  • On the royals: Trump lavished praise on Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. He also said he'd been watching Meghan Markle's emotional interviews, noting that she'd taken critical media coverage "very personally" and adding "I guess you've got to be a little bit different than that."

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Brexit

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that Corbyn has accused Trump of trying to get his friend Boris Johnson (not Donald Trump) elected.

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