Time to Get ‘Tough’ With EU Over Brexit, Trump Tells UK

“I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out.”

U.S. President Donald Trump urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to get tough in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union in an interview with the UK channel ITV on Sunday.

“Would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s [being] negotiated,” President Trump told ITV’s Piers Morgan. “I would have had a different attitude.”

“I would have said that the EU is not cracked up to be what it's supposed to be. And I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out,” he added.

Last July, Britain voted to leave the EU in a nationwide referendum — 43 years after it joined the common European market. British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned following the referendum result, paving the way for Theresa May to take over the role.

Theresa May, Home Secretary in Cameron’s cabinet, was initially opposed to leaving the EU but remained largely silent during the campaign. She, however, vowed to steer the country out of the EU since taking the office almost six months ago.

UK officials have accused the EU of ‘dragging its feet’ in the ongoing negotiations and trying to extort ‘bigger payments’ from the country. According to the UK media reports published in December, Brussels was reportedly pushing for a ‘punishment clause’ in a future trade deal, threatening to impose high tariffs on key British exports to the 27-member bloc.

Reuters news agency reported U.S. President’s comments:

U.S. President Donald Trump would take a “tougher” approach to Brexit negotiations than Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, he said in a television interview to be broadcast later on Sunday.

In the interview with British channel ITV, Trump said the European Union was “not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be” and claimed he had predicted the result of the June 2016 referendum in which Britons voted to leave the EU. Trump was elected to the U.S. presidency later the same year.

When asked if May was in a “good position” regarding the ongoing Brexit talks, Trump replied: “Would it be the way I negotiate? No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s [being] negotiated ... I would have had a different attitude.”

Pressed on how his approach would be different, he said: “I would have said the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be. I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out.”

“Don’t forget Theresa May voted against Brexit and she was pretty critical of Trump during his campaign,” the leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said, reacting to President Trump’s recent meeting with Prime Minister May at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “But this was a British Prime Minister realizing that because we voted for Brexit, we are now free to start making our own friendships and making our own trade deals around the world.”

During the interview, President Trump reiterated his offer to sign a bilateral trade deal with the UK once the country is free of the EU restrictions in the wake of Brexit negotiations.

“As you know, you’re are somewhat restricted because of Brexit, but when that restriction is up we’re going to be your great trading partner,” he told British channel.