Trump on Theresa May: “I Would Have Handled Brexit Differently”
President Trump proved this week that he is no more shy about conflict with U.S. allies than he is with our enemies. In stark terms, he blasted both the NATO alliance members in Brussels and the Theresa May-led government in Britain within just a couple of days. No sooner had the dust settled from Trump’s raucous appearance in Brussels, where he blasted Germany and other NATO members for failing to live up to their defense spending obligations, than Trump was telling The UK Sun that while the U.K./U.S. relationship was as strong as ever, Prime Minister May was presiding over nothing less than a “wrecked Brexit” that could endanger a trade deal between the two powerhouse countries.
“Well, I think the deal that she is striking is not what the people voted on,” Trump said, quite accurately.
Trump gave the interview to the newspaper only hours after what seemed to be a harmonious state dinner at Blenheim Palace. Trump even walked hand in hand with May at one point, assuring reporters and friends that the U.S. and Britain still enjoyed the “special relationship” that has survived for decades.
But while there may be little danger of a split in that relationship, President Trump made it clear that he does not approve of how the May government is handling the Brexit negotiations. In that criticism, of course, he is hardly alone. Members of May’s own Conservative Party have resigned from her administration and fiercely slammed her for negotiating a “soft” Brexit that would leave the UK subject to many of the same regulations they faced while members of the European Union.
“I would have done it much differently,” Trump told the newspaper. “I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”
Trump went further, telling the paper that if May kept the UK under the EU’s thumb, it “would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”
Trump’s upset at the way Brexit is being handled is understandable. He, like many within May’s party, does not understand why she went into these negotiations with such a weak spine. Great Britain had a lot more leverage here than they actually used in the talks. The EU needs Britain as a trading partner just as much as Britain needs the EU. May could have played hardball, blasted past all the warnings and threats, and discovered that the unelected officials who run the EU are not quite as brave as they pretend. She could have turned Brexit into a great thing for the UK, instead of meekly surrendering to Europe.