President Trump offered the United Kingdom some patented “Art of the Deal” advice in an interview with the Sunday Times this weekend, advising leaders to simply walk away from the negotiating table if the European Union does not give them what they want from a fair Brexit deal. That includes, he said, refusing to pay the 39 billion pound crash-out bill that Brussels negotiators are demanding from the country. Trump also said that British leaders would be wise to send Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage to negotiate on their behalf.
“They’ve got to get it done,” Trump said. “They have got to get the deal closed. If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away. If you don’t get a fair deal, you walk away.”
Candidates in line to replace exiting Prime Minister Theresa May have echoed Trump’s hard-line approach to Brexit. Among them are former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has said that Britain must leave the EU by the October 31 due date, with or without a deal from Brussels. Trump praised those candidates in his interview and said it was of paramount importance for the British government to listen to its citizens.
Trump’s remarks come as Farage’s new party is topping opinion polls in the national elections. According to the latest survey from Opinium, the Brexit Party could easily capture the lion’s share of Parliament with 26% of the vote. That puts Farage’s new party ahead of Labour (22%) and the Tories (17%).
With Johnson the front-runner to take over as Prime Minister from the departing May, however, it will be up to the Conservative leader to form a coalition within Parliament that can get behind – if necessary – a no-deal Brexit. That was the challenge that May faced and failed to come to terms with. Can Johnson do any better, or is Britain destined to disappoint voters who demanded a clean Brexit back in 2016? If so, it will be a crushing blow to the legitimacy of democracy in the United Kingdom, and it could have enormous consequences for everyone in the governing parties.