President-elect Donald Trump has slammed the mass migration policy of Germany’s Angela Merkel and welcomed Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), predicting it will “end up being a great thing” and other countries will depart the crisis-stricken bloc.
“I sort of, as you know, predicted it,” he told British parliamentarian Michael Gove, reporting for The Times of London in President-elect Trump’s first UK press interview.
“The heat I took was unbelievable,” he said, “[but] people don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country.
“[I]n this country we’re gonna go very strong borders from the day I get in … We don’t want people coming in from Syria who we don’t know who they are. You know there’s no way of vetting these people. I don’t want to do what Germany did.”
Trump told Gove that, in his view, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to encourage mass immigration into Europe was “the final straw that broke the camel’s back”.
He said: “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. You’ll find out, you got a big dose of it a week ago. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake. ”
“People, countries want their own identity,” he said, arguing that the Brexit vote was an affirmation of Britain’s national identity.
“You look at the UK and you look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out,” he said.
Trump also praised the continuing strength of the British economy, a blow to the Bank of England, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other forecasters who had to tear up their negative predictions shortly after referendum day.
“I’ll tell you, the fact that your pound sterling has gone down? Great,” he said, echoing the sentiments of Lord King and former IMF Deputy Director Ashoka Mody. “Because business is unbelievable in a lot of parts in the UK, as you know.”
Key figures in Prime Minister Theresa May’s team were less than charitable towards the incoming president while he was running for office, leading to concerns that Britain may find it difficult to establish a good working relationship with his administration after Brexit.
It is fortunate that Trump, whose mother hailed from Scotland’s windswept Western Isles, has an instinctive affinity for the United Kingdom.
“[M]y mother sort of had a flair, she loved the Queen,” he revealed. “She was so proud of the Queen.”
Trump offered particularly positive signals on trade. EU member-states are not able to strike trade agreements by themselves or cast independent votes on global trade bodies as the World Trade Organization (WTO) but, asked if Brexit Britain might be able to make a deal with the United States, the president-elect was unequivocal.
“Absolutely, very quickly. I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly — good for both sides.
“[Theresa May is] requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House … I think we’re gonna get something done very quickly.”
The president-elect’s warm words indicate a bright future for the UK economy. An analysis of figures produced by the European Commission itself suggests that signing trade agreements with countries like the U.S. after Brexit could create up to 400,000 jobs in the UK, but it was not previously clear that these would be easy to secure.