It’s common in the U.S. for President Donald Trump to call into friendly radio or TV shows like Fox & Friends. But such a thing is unheard of in the U.K. Which could explain the commotion Trump caused when he phoned his pal Nigel Farage’s radio program Thursday and weighed in on Brexit, the upcoming U.K. election and Meghan Markle’s public battle with the British press.
Trump’s interview was criticized by many U.K. politicians, including opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who accused the U.S. President of interfering in Britain’s Dec. 12 election.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to scurry to make a statement to defend his Brexit deal Friday morning after Trump criticized it and said it would make it impossible for the U.K. to strike a trade deal with the U.S. after leaving the European Union.
Here are the most talked-about parts of Trump’s attention-grabbing interview with Farage.
Trump says Brexit deal would prevent a new U.S. trade agreement
Trump said that while the U.S. wants to negotiate a new trade deal with the U.K., Johnson’s Brexit deal would prevent such a deal from happening.
“To be honest, under certain aspects of the deal, you can’t do it, you can’t trade,” Trump told Farage. “We can’t make a trade deal with the U.K.”
This comes after Johnson has claimed his Brexit deal would allow the U.K. to trade freely with the rest of the world.
In response, the Johnson’s spokesperson told TIME Friday: “The Prime Minister had not spoken to the President about the Deal, and [the Brexit deal] was agreed after they were last in touch. The Prime Minister’s deal takes back control over all of our money, laws and borders, and allows us to do trade deals with whichever country we choose including the U.S.”
Meghan Markle takes criticism ‘very personally,’ Trump says
Trump also spoke of the Duchess of Sussex’s recent complaint about the abuse she has received from the British tabloid press since meeting Prince Harry. Trump, who bolstered his public persona in the New York tabloids, said she was taking the critical media coverage “very personally.”
“I’ve been watching her interviews and I’ve seen it, and she’s taking it very personally. I guess you have to be a little bit different from that,” Trump told Farage.
“She takes it very, very personally and I can understand it. I don’t know her—I will say, I’ve met Harry, he’s great,” he added.
On Oct. 1, Markle—who is American—and Prince Harry announced they were suing a U.K. tabloid after it published parts of a letter Markle had sent to her father. A few weeks later, Markle spoke to a British TV documentary about U.K. press coverage of her. “I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair,” she said.
As for the rest of the royal family, Trump had nothing but praise. Of his June state visit to the U.K., which included meetings with the royal family, Trump said: “We had something that was so incredible, recently. I got to meet Harry, and he’s a really fine young man. I think the whole family is terrific.”
Trump couldn’t contain his admiration for the British royals, especially Queen Elizabeth II. He described the Queen as a “great, great woman,” who “had gone through everything from wars to anything you could go through.”
Prince Charles, with his love of the environment, was described as “so, so good” by Trump.
“[Prince Charles] loves the environment, he loves your country so much,” Trump told Farage. “We had a great time… Really special people.”
Boris Johnson should team up with Nigel Farage
During his radio interview with Nigel Farage, the Trump also said that Johnson and Farage, the leader of the U.K.’s Brexit Party, should get together to form an “unstoppable force.”
“You and I have become friends over the years and you’ve seen what’s happening with my thing,” Trump said. “I would like to see you and Boris get together because you would really have some numbers. Because you did fantastically in the last election.”
Farage’s Brexit Party stormed to victory in the 2019 E.U. elections in April, winning 31.6% of the vote, and beating the U.K. Conservative and Labour parties.
“I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific if you and he get together,” he added. “You’d be an unstoppable force.”
Trump also told Farage that Johnson “respects you a lot, I can tell you that”.
Johnson has repeatedly ruled out any prospect of an electoral allegiance with the Brexit Party. Asked if he would do a deal with Farage, Johnson told the BBC in September: “No. There is good reason for that, that is that the Conservative Party is the oldest and greatest political party in the world. It is a big, broad church and we don’t do deals with the help of other parties.”
Johnson made the claim despite the last two Conservative Party prime ministers both governing with the help of other parties.
Trump: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be ‘so bad’ for the U.K.
As the conversation turned to U.K.’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, Trump was vocal in his criticism.
“Corbyn would be so bad for your country, so bad. He’d take you in such a bad way,” Trump said. “He’d take you into such bad places.”
“I’m sure he’s a lovely man but of a different persuasion to put it mildly. He’s at the opposite end,” Trump added.
In contrast, Trump praised Johnson. “I think he’s a fantastic guy and I think he’s the exact right guy for the times,” he said.
Trump blamed Corbyn for the suggestion that the U.S. would “take over” the U.K.’s healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), in any trade deal after Brexit.
But in a joint press conference in London with former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in June, Trump said that the NHS would be on the table in future post-Brexit trade talks. He said: “Everything’s on the table, so NHS or anything else. A lot more than that.”
Some in the U.K. are concerned that the U.S. could demand increases in the amount that the NHS pays for America-made medicines and medical supplies as part of a trade deal—which could lead to increased costs to the NHS.
“I don’t even know where that started. I don’t know where your healthcare system started with respect to us taking over your healthcare system,” Trump said. “It’s not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system.”
In a strong rebuttal, Corbyn said on Twitter: “Donald Trump is trying to interfere in Britain’s election to get his friend Boris Johnson election.”
“It was Trump who said in June the NHS is “on the table”. And he knows if Labour wins, U.S. corporations won’t get their hands on it,” Corbyn added.
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