US President-elect Donald Trump has hailed the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) as a “great thing,” arguing that the bloc is heavily influenced by Germany.
In an interview with former justice secretary Michael Gove forThe Times, Trump said Sunday that the EU was “dominated” by Germany and the June 23 vote by 52 percent of Britons to leave the bloc was a “smart” decision.
“You look at the European Union and it is Germany; basically, a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out,” he told Gove.
The incoming US president said Brexit signaled the British people’s desire for “their own identity” and predicted that other countries would soon follow suit and leave the EU.
“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not going to be as easy as a lot of people think,” he argued.
The real estate developer assured Gove that he would put the UK “at the front of the queue” for a trade deal, taking a jab at outgoing President Barack Obama’s last year warnings that Brexit would send the UK to the “back of the queue.”
“We’re going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides,” he said.
Merkel’s ‘catastrophic’ mistake
Elsewhere during the interview, Trump said the UK would have not opted for Brexit if the refugee crisis was handled in a different way.
He put part of the blame on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, saying she made a “catastrophic” mistake by accepting thousands of refugees.
“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,” he added.
Trump said he would “start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs Merkel” after taking office and “see how long that lasts.”
Last year, Europe was hit by an influx of refugees, most of whom fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
In a separate interview with the German paper Bild, Trump said he might put more restrictions on accepting refugees from “parts of the world and parts of Europe, where we have problems.”
Trump once again criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), saying he had warned long ago that the US-led military alliance had problems.
“One; that it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago, and number two; that the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay,” he explained.
According to the British government, Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May talked about NATO last November and agreed that more member states should commit to spending 2 percent of national income on defense.