Trump says Brexit will be ‘a great thing’

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US President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City.
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Thomson Reuters

LONDON – US President-elect Donald Trump said Brexit will turn out to be a “great thing,” The Times newspaper reported.

“Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” Trump told The Times of London in an interview. He was speaking to former British Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who has returned to journalism after his failed Conservative leadership bid last year.

Trump said he would work very hard to get a trade deal with the United Kingdom “done quickly and done properly.”

He added: “People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country. I thought the UK was so smart in getting out [of the EU]… Obama said: they’ll go to the back of the line [queue]… that was a bad statement.”

Trump promised to sit down with British Prime Minister Theresa May soon after he enters office this week. “I will be meeting [Theresa May] – in fact if you want you can see the letter – wherever the letter is – she just sent it. She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and… we’re gonna get something done very quickly,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed Trump’s comments. “It’s great to hear that from President-elect Donald Trump. Clearly, it will have to be a deal that is very much in the interests of both sides, but I have no doubt that it will be,” he told reporters in Brussels.

Other highlights from The Times interview included:

    Trump on immigration and the future of the EU: “People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it . . . entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. . . I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think. And I think this, if refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe . . . I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.” Trump on NATO: “I took such heat when I said NATO was obsolete… It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right.” Trump added that many NATO members are not paying their fair share for US protection. “With that being said, NATO is very important to me. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much.” Trump on the prospect of a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia: “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.”