- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2019

President Trump says Brexit should and will happen, leaning into the politics of the United Kingdom on Tuesday by scolding liberal Britons as negative Nellies, dismissing London protests against his visit and confabbing with one of the men who could replace Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mr. Trump said he cheered the country’s 2016 vote to withdraw from the European Union and that seeing it through would clear the way for a “phenomenal” trade deal between the U.K. and U.S.

“I would think that it will happen, and it probably should happen,” he said in a joint press conference with Mrs. May. “This is a great, great country, and it wants its own identity, it wants to have its own borders. It wants to run its own affairs.”

Mrs. May, who is stepping down Friday, said she still wants to see an orderly transition out of the European Union, though it will be up to her successor to accomplish it after she ran into a quagmire.

“I think the important thing is we deliver Brexit,” she said. “And once we’re out of the European Union, we will be able to do what we’ve been talking about today and develop not just that free trade agreement, but a broader economic partnership into the future.”

The president and prime minister met a day after Mr. Trump’s big-pageantry arrival, which including a state dinner with Queen Elizabeth II.

Protesters could be heard in the background as Mr. Trump and Mrs. May made a brief walk from No. 10 Downing St. to the Foreign Office for their press conference.

Mr. Trump downplayed the extent of the public uproar. He said he didn’t see many protesters, so the coverage amounted to “fake news,” even as The Associated Press and other outlets reported that thousands took to the streets and depicted Mr. Trump as a big baby or a tyrant on a toilet.

The president instead said he wanted to focus on positive relations. He said there is “tremendous potential” for both countries if Mrs. May’s successor can pull the nation out of the EU.

“The United States is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K.,” he said.

Thirteen candidates are seeking to replace Mrs. May. Conservative front-runner Boris Johnson and Brexit Party founder Nigel Farage are pushing for the U.K. to leave the EU without a deal Oct. 31.

Mr. Trump didn’t wade too far into the prime minister race, though he praised Mr. Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign minister.

“I know Boris. I like him. I’ve liked him for a long time,” Mr. Trump said. “I think he’d do a very good job.”

“I know Jeremy. I think he’d do a very good job,” he added.

Later Tuesday, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Farage at Winfield House, the U.S. ambassador’s residence where the Trumps are staying during their visit.

“Good meeting with President Trump – he really believes in Brexit and is loving his trip to London,” Mr. Farage tweeted.

Responding to reporters, Mr. Trump didn’t shy away from his blistering critique of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor who castigated the British government for rolling out the red carpet for the U.S. leader.

“I think he’s been a not very good mayor, from what I understand,” Mr. Trump said.

The president said Mr. Khan should not speak poorly of a “representative of the United States” who can help the U.K.

“He should be positive, not negative,” Mr. Trump said.

Likewise, he declined to meet with Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. He said he didn’t see an upside in sitting down with a “negative force.”

“I really don’t like critics as much as I like and respect people that get things done,” the president said.

Mrs. May ascended to the prime minister’s job in 2016 in the wake of the shock vote in favor of Brexit. Then-Prime Minister David Cameron opposed leaving the union, and when the referendum passed he said it made sense to have a supporter at the helm.

Mrs. May, though, has had no success in working out details of the exit from the EU.

Mr. Trump, who had been critical of Mrs. May’s approach, paid tribute to her Tuesday. He said the prime minister is a good negotiator and deserves a “lot of credit” for her work in trying to fashion an orderly Brexit.

Mrs. May said that behind closed doors, she pressed Mr. Trump on climate change and his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, a move the U.K. opposed.

“I’ve always talked honestly with you, Donald, when we’ve taken a different approach — and you’ve done the same with me,” she said.

She praised Mr. Trump’s push to get European partners to pony up more money for their security.

“They have no choice. They must fulfill their obligations,” Mr. Trump said.

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