18 January 2017
President-elect Donald Trump caused waves after his interview with Brexiteer Michael Gove.
Donald Trump is not your average politician. He doesn’t mince his words and he is quick to speak his mind on the issues of the day. His main form of communication with the public so far has been through his legendary Twitter account, where he pings out eye-catching missives day and night.
But he’s opened up more over the course of a revealing interview with Brexit backing former Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who joined him at Trump Tower for an extended conversation. Through the transcript of the encounter, we learned a lot about the incoming administration and Trump’s view on the world beyond the United States.
‘I thought the UK was so smart in getting out’
Trump has long been an open support of Britain’s quest for independence from the meddling of the European Union, and he repeated his praise in particularly strong terms. Describing the European Union as ‘basically a vehicle for Germany’, he said that he believed ‘the UK was so smart in getting out’, reflecting on his prophecy of the eventual result and demonstrating that he understands the people of the UK better than many of our own politicians.
‘People don’t want other people coming in and destroying their country’ he said, ‘and you know in this country we’re gonna go very strong borders from the day I get in’. His campaign for the highest office in the United States was driven by concern about illegal immigration from south of the US-Mexico border, and Trump’s now iconic vow to build a wall.
He also dwelled on Scotland, the homeland of his beloved mother where he now maintains an historic golf course, Turnberry (‘which is doing unbelievably’). He told Gove, a Scotsman, that he takes at least one stereotypical trait from his mother: ‘well, the Scottish are known for watching their pennies, so I like to watch my pennies – I mean I deal in big pennies, that’s the problem’.
He also recounted his mother’s love for the Queen: ‘she was so proud of the Queen…Anytime the Queen was on television, an event, my mother would be watching’. The affection he clearly has for our country bodes well for the future of the Special Relationship.
Trade: ‘good for both sides’
Among the big stories to come from the interview was Trump’s commitment to a speedy and effective trade deal with an independent United Kingdom which he said would be ‘good for both sides’, adding that he was ‘gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly’.
Downing Street has already praised the call, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying that ‘it’s very good news that the United States of America wants to do a good free trade deal with us and wants to do it very fast and it’s great to hear that from President-elect Donald Trump’. Hopefully the government can get on the ball and pursue the offer quickly – a top Trump aide has forecast a mere six month window to get terms hammered out.
Compare this to the reaction of mad Europhile Nick Clegg. After participating in the dishonest Project Fear campaign during June’s referendum, during which we were endlessly told that comprehensive free trade with the US was a pipe dream and that we were at the ‘back of the queue’, Mr Clegg is now keen to pretend that a trade deal with the US would be a disaster. Among his baseless claims is a threat that a trade deal would require British consumers to eat chlorine-soaked chickens. He’s lost it.
‘How is our Nigel doing?’
Trump also surely embarrassed interviewer Gove by asking after his favourite British politician, former UKIP leader and Brexit icon Nigel Farage. ‘How is our Nigel doing?’ he asked. ‘I like him, I think he’s a great guy, I think he’s a very good guy and he was very supportive’. He caused shockwaves last year when he tweeted that Farage would make a fine ambassador to the United States. Rather than being taken as useful guidance by Downing Street, it led to another round of senseless Farage bashing that can limit the effectiveness of essential trans-Atlantic outreach.
He shares many of Farage’s opinions, and takes a pessimistic view of the future of the European Union. ‘I think it’s very tough…people, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity’. He blames the collapse of support for the EU on migration. Speaking about the American situation, he stressed that ‘we don’t want people coming in from Syria who we don’t know who they are. You know there’s no way of vetting these people. I don’t want to do what Germany did.’ He described Merkel’s refugee policy as ‘one of the great messes of all time’ and alluded to classified information about the ongoing dangers in Afghanistan.
With the Trump presidency approaching, it’s certainly heartening to see an American president who shares the views and values of so many British people. Let’s hope the Special Relationship is reborn on his watch, and our nations prosper together.