US would strongly support no-deal Brexit, says John Bolton

Trump security adviser says US ready to work fast on US-UK free trade agreement

US national security adviser John Bolton in London: “We’re with you, we’re with you.” Photograph: Peter Nicholls

US national security adviser John Bolton in London: “We’re with you, we’re with you.” Photograph: Peter Nicholls

 

The United States would enthusiastically support a no-deal Brexit if that is what the British government decided to do, US national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday during a visit to London aimed at reassuring Britain over UK-US ties.

Mr Bolton told British prime minister Boris Johnson that President Donald Trump wants to see a successful British exit from the European Union on October 31st and that Washington would be ready to work fast on a US-UK free trade agreement.

As things stand, Britain faces an exit on October 31st without any formal transition period or legal agreement covering issues such as trade, data transfers and border policy.

“If that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey. We’re with you, we’re with you,” Mr Bolton told reporters after his first day of meetings.

Improved relationship

Mr Bolton, in London for two days of talks, is seeking an improved US-British relationship with Mr Johnson after sometimes tense links between Mr Trump and Theresa May.

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He said British officials had given him an unmistakable sense that they were determined to honour the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU. Mr Bolton offered his support for this stance.

“The fashion in the European Union: when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elites want to go, it’s to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right,” he said.

The central message Mr Bolton was delivering is that the US would help cushion Britain’s exit from the EU with a free trade deal that is being negotiated by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and his British counterpart, Liz Truss.

Financial sector

Mr Bolton said Britain and the US could agree trade deals on a sector-by-sector basis, leaving more difficult areas in the trading relationship until later. He said the ultimate aim was a comprehensive trade deal, but highlighted that financial services could be one of the more difficult industries to reach an agreement on.

Earlier, a senior Trump administration official told travelling reporters the president had wanted to work with the May government on a trade deal but her government “didn’t want do it. This government does. We’re very happy about it.”

Mr Trump believes that “when it comes to trade negotiations the EU is worse than China, only smaller”, the official said.

Mr Johnson spoke to Mr Trump on Monday. “They discussed global economic issues and trade, and the prime minister updated the president on Brexit,” Downing Street said.

“The president expressed his appreciation for the United Kingdom’s steadfast partnership in addressing global challenges and looks forward to meeting with him [Johnson] personally in the near future,” the White House said. – Reuters

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