Donald Trump has waded into British politics again, addressing the key question facing pro-leave right-wingers in the forthcoming general election.
The president said he hoped prime minister Boris Johnson, a “wonderful guy”, and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage would come together on a united political platform.
The president spoke to reporters at the White House after returning from a visit to New York to watch a UFC fight, an evening which produced both boos and cheers and stoked fierce debate on Sunday.
Asked which British politician he would side with if he had to choose, Trump said: “I like them both … So I think Boris will get it right. They’re both friends of mine. What I’d like to see is for Nigel and Boris to come together. I think that’s a possibility.”
Farage said on Sunday he would not run for a seat in the general election. Johnson has already rejected the suggestion from both Trump and Farage that he should work with the Brexit party.
Instead, Johnson has talked up the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US as one of the biggest prizes of leaving the European Union.
Trump said: “Boris is the right man for the time. He’s really for the times. He’s a great gentleman. He’s a wonderful guy. He’s tough, he’s smart and I think he’s going to do something.”
Speaking to Farage on the British politician’s LBC radio show earlier this week, Trump said Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal would prevent the UK and US from striking a trade deal of their own and described the situation as “completely ridiculous”. Downing Street rejected that claim.
On Sunday, Trump indicated that if the UK made a clean break with Europe, as opposed to remaining in the customs union in any form, the US would be in a better position to strike a trade deal.
“We’re far and away the No1 economy in the world,” Trump said, “and, if you do it a certain way, we’re prohibited from trading with the UK. That would be very bad for the UK because we can do much more business than the European Union.”
In his broadcast conversation with Farage on Thursday, Trump also disparaged the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
In response, Corbyn tweeted: “Donald Trump is trying to interfere in Britain’s election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected.”