LONDON, Jan. 30, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump talked about Britain’s exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU), trade and his Twitter habit among other topics in a wide-ranging interview with a British media outlet aired on Sunday.
TIES WITH UK AFTER BREXIT
On negotiations over Brexit from EU, Trump said he would have taken a “tougher” approach than the one currently adopted by British Prime Minister Theresa May, in the interview with British ITV channel’s program Good Morning Britain.
Acknowledging he had a lot of respect for May, the president said: “I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be.”
London has dragged itself into painstaking negotiations with Brussels chaffering over favorable terms about its exit from the 28-country bloc. Formal Brexit is expected in March 2019, but the progress of the talks has been slow given the complexity of the issue.
Noting that London will be banned for two years from signing bilateral trade pacts with other economies before leaving the EU, Trump said: “When that restriction is up, we’re going to be your great trading partner.”
The president also expressed his willingness to visit Britain, though he has recently canceled a trip to London, the reason for which he said was that he didn’t like the relocation of the U.S. embassy there.
Media reports, however, have attributed the decision to the cool reception the president would likely receive. The British public, outraged by Trump’s retweet of an anti-Muslim video originally posted by a far-right British nationalist group known as “Britain First,” signed a petition urging the government not to give Trump a state visit.
UNFAIR US-EU TRADE
On trade, Trump complained about what he said was very unfair trade relationship between the United States and the EU, warning that trade disputes could become a big problem.
“The European Union has treated the United States very unfairly when it came to trade … and it may morph into something very big,” he said.
The president has always complained about other economies taking advantage of Washington by means of “unfair” trade practices.
As regards the EU market, Trump said “We cannot get our product in. It’s very very tough,” adding that products from the EU are sold to the United States with “no taxes — very little taxes.”
Trump’s “America First” slogan was snubbed by international politicians and business leaders as they gathered in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum last week.
In an interview with Swiss national television RTS, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Trump “to be on board with us on multilateralism.”
Trump, for his part, gave Macron a high praise during the interview Sunday, saying the young French leader is “a great guy.”
“He’s a great guy … His wife is fantastic. I like them a lot. You know, we had dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and everything was closed,” Trump said.
For the first time, Trump admitted that he sometimes posts on Twitter while in bed, a habit previously revealed by the New York Times.
“Well, perhaps sometimes in bed, perhaps sometimes at breakfast or lunch or whatever,” Trump said in Sunday’s interview. “I can do whatever, but I am very busy during the day, very long hours.”
The contents of his frequent tweets range from serious policy decisions to hostile war of words against nations or leaders he denigrates.
The outspoken president’s frivolousness in both topic choices and wording styles has raised concern over his personal integrity as well as fitness for the presidency.
Trump, in response, defended his use of the social networking tool as necessary amid “a lot of fake news” about him, saying “If I don’t have that form of communication I can’t defend myself.”
Trump said he usually tweets himself, but sometimes lets other people write down what he says as well on his personal account, which now has some 47.2 million followers.
Concerning one example of controversies caused by his tweets, Trump apologized for his retweet of an anti-Muslim video posted by far-right group “Britain First.”
In the build-up to his apology, Trump emphasized that he had only recently become aware of the nature of the group and that stories about the group in the United States are less as popular than in Britain.
“I am, as I say often, the least racist person that anybody is going to meet … If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that,” he said.