Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage have both played down the possibility of election-related remarks from President Donald Trump when he visits the United Kingdom next week for a key NATO summit.
The separate remarks made by the British political leaders this week betray an anxiety born of the disastrous intervention by former U.S. President Barack Obama during the 2016 Brexit referendum, when he said that if the United Kingdom left the European Union it would sent to “the back of the queue” for a trade deal — falsely, as it turned out.
Trump: British-American Trade Will Be 'Five Times' Bigger with Post-Brexit Deal https://t.co/MY95ZAjSQq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 27, 2019
It was subsequently revealed that then-prime minister David Cameron had specifically requested that Obama make the “back of the queue” threat as part of his campaign against Brexit — ‘Project Fear’ — to frighten the British people into voting to Remain in the European Union.
The intervention was perceived to have backfired.
Confirmed: Cameron Told Obama to Say Brexit Britain Would Be ‘Back of the Queue’ https://t.co/k6QIKSdS6J
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 2, 2018
When asked by Breitbart London whether he would be meeting with President Trump next week, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that not only would he not be seeing the President — in contrast to past Presidential visits — but that he believed it would be a politically neutral trip, focusing on the NATO alliance.
Praising Trump’s record on NATO itself, Mr Farage said:
No, no plans to see the President. I’m on the campaign trail and he will obviously do his utmost to appear to be neutral through all of this. But it does raise some big questions because he’s coming for the NATO summit, and we have just seen a Conservative manifesto which in terms of defence is promising almost nothing other than more cutbacks. It is even pretty questionable whether the UK is going to stick to the two per cent needed to be a valid part of NATO.
We have the rapid development of the European defence union and intelligence-sharing — you’ve got the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community, NATO, and a European Union which I beleive would be happy to see NATO destroyed. And I think in the middle of all this next week, Boris Johnson may need to stand up and start saying where he stands on all of this and with his Brexit, are we leaving the European defence union or not?
Mr Farage predicted that, amid a general election campaign where defence issues have barely registered, the arrival of the U.S. President to attend a major defence conference would put the matter back on the radar.
He said the Brexit Party would be using the opportunity to talk about the matter, explaining: “This time next week, these are going to be huge issues and the symbolism of Trump coming in… in terms of geopolitics, this is a big moment.”
Mr Farage said that while critics in the European Union had claimed President Trump had destabilied NATO, this was actually “a load of baloney”, and “just not true — Trump is very clear, if you pay your way, the club works.”
EU Must Learn ‘Language of Power’, Needs Army of 60,000: Eurocrat https://t.co/w4t6dCi4le
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 9, 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made similar remarks, speaking to London’s LBC talk radio station. The Times reports he was asked whether he would “welcome” an endorsement from President Trump, but he responded that it was not wise for close allies to interfere in each other’s election campaigns.
He said: “I may just remind you that one of the cardinal moments of the referendum campaign in 2016 was when Barack Obama turned up and weighed in heavily on the side of Remain in a way that was not entirely conducive to the good of that cause.
“When you have close friends and allies like the U.S. and UK, the best thing is for neither side to get involved in each other’s election campaigns.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 24, 2016