Trump says UK would be Wise to Leave the European Union
NEW YORK – U.S. Presidential hopefull and Presumptive Republican Nominee, Donald Trump said on Friday, Britain will benefit from leaving the EU so it can better control migration.
Migration is at the heart of Mr Trump’s presidential bid and an increasingly prominent part of the Leave campaign ahead of the UK’s June 23 In: Out referendum on EU membership.
Mr Trump, who triumphed in the vital Indiana primary this week, said countries such as Germany and “even parts of Sweden” were “going through hell right now” — an apparent reference to the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and elsewhere.
“I think the migration has been a horrible thing for Europe,” he told Fox on Thursday. “A lot of that was pushed by the EU. I would say that they [the UK] are better off without it personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation — just my feeling.”
He added: “I know Great Britain very well . . . I have a lot of investments there.”
His comments came two weeks after President Barack Obama warned during a visit to Britain that the UK would suffer from leaving the EU and drop to “the back of the queue” for any prospective trade deal with Washington.
Mr Trump was speaking hours after David Cameron, who is battling to overcome divisions in the ruling Conservative party to deliver a Remain vote in June’s referendum, made his most emollient comments to date about the real estate developer.
The UK prime minister had previously denounced Mr Trump for his “stupid, divisive and wrong” suggestion last December that the US should ban Muslims from entering the country.
But Mr Cameron has toned down the criticism after a dawning acceptance that Mr Trump might yet end up in the White House, heralding an intriguing new era in “the special relationship”.
Asked whether he would now apologise to Mr Trump for calling his comments about Muslims “stupid”, Mr Cameron said he stood by his criticism.
But he said: “Knowing the gruelling nature of the primaries, what you have to go through to go on and represent your party in a general election — anyone who makes it through that deserves our respect.”
At a press conference with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, Mr Cameron added: “What I said about Muslims, I wouldn’t change that view. I’m very clear that the policy idea that was put forward was wrong, it is wrong, and it will remain wrong.”
Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman later said the prime minister respected Mr Trump, “politician to politician”, in an indication the two might yet be able to forge a working relationship.
Earlier this week George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Mr Trump, told The Times that “an apology or some sort of retraction should happen” to bring about a rapprochement.
“It is unfortunate that prime minister Cameron was one of the most outspoken critics of Mr Trump,” Mr Papadopoulos said. “Not even the Chinese premier came out with negative statements, or other European leaders.”
Britain’s political establishment is fervently hoping that Hillary Clinton will emerge as president, but diplomats in Washington are trying to build a relationship with Mr Trump’s campaign team.
The relationship will be further tested if Mr Trump decides to put Britain on a list of countries he intends to visit on a proposed tour of Europe and the Middle East.
Mr Papadopoulos said an invitation by the British government would be seen as a “tremendous show of unity and a wonderful spectacle”. It might also make for an excruciating diplomatic encounter with the prime minister.
Last year Mr Cameron declined calls from Labour politicians for Mr Trump to be banned from Britain but added: “I think if he came to visit our country he’d unite us all against him.”
The prime minister’s aides said Mr Cameron had not sent any note of congratulation to Mr Trump on his apparently unstoppable march to the Republican presidential nomination: that would wait until it was confirmed.
By George Parker – Financial Times
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