Trump predicts Brexit could be ‘great thing’ for Britain

President-elect vows to bring back taxable income from giant US firms based in Ireland

Donald Trump: Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a “catastrophic error” allowing undocumented refugees into Germany. Photograph: PA

Donald Trump: Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a “catastrophic error” allowing undocumented refugees into Germany. Photograph: PA

 

US president-elect Donald Trump has predicted that Brexit could be a “great thing” for Britain and that London will soon secure a successful trade deal with the US.

In his first foreign press interview, Mr Trump said Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a “catastrophic error” allowing undocumented refugees into the country. To Germany’s Bild he joked that his German blood meant that he “likes order, when things are taken care of”.

“The Germans are known for that. But I also like order and I like strength,” he told Bild and the London Times in a joint interview ahead of his inauguration on Friday.

Mr Trump said it was immaterial to him whether the EU continued in its present state or disintegrated, but he was pessimistic about its future coherence and about the future of the euro.

“I think hold (the euro) together won’t be so easy as some people think,” he said. “And if people continue to stream into different parts of Europe it will be difficult to hold it together, it annoys people a lot.”

As well as the refugee crisis, a challenge will be to simply EU bureaucracy for member states, he said, citing his difficulty developing his Irish golf course in Doonbeg because of EU “environmental tricks”.

“The Irish permission to develop came very quickly but then Ireland and my people turned to the EU to get the permission there,” he said. “That was going to take years, which is very bad for Ireland.”

The president-elect said Europe should expect not US protectionism but a more confident, pragmatic and pro-active trade partner. If BMW wants to build cars in Mexico and sell them in the US, he said, they will face 35 per cent import duties.

“I find it’s only fair that such a (trade) relationship is two-way . . . and we lose $800 billion annually in trade. That will stop,” he said. “The most of that is China, because China is a real problem.”

As well as tariffs, Mr Trump vowed to work to bring back taxable income from giant US corporations based in Ireland and elsewhere, such as Google. “I think we have five trillion dollars over there,” he said. “It is a part of our tax law. The money will come back.”

On Nato, Mr Trump described the transatlantic alliance as “obsolete”. “It was designed many many years ago,” he said. “And, number two . . . the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”

‘Dishonest’

Looking forward, the president-elect said he would continue to use his current Twitter account after taking office on Friday, saying his 46 million followers gave him the ability to circumvent “dishonest” media reporting on him.

He dismissed claims in an intelligence dossier published last week that Russia held incriminating evidence on him, gathered during a Russian trip, and would use it blackmail him in office.

“If I did all that in a hotel room it would be he biggest thing, I would be on the front page of the New York Post. It’s completely made up,” he said.

Mr Trump denied his “America first” policy would lead to greater divisions or instability in the world. However he expressed confidence that his administration would have an important role to play in the Middle East peace process, particularly as his son-in-law Jared Kushner would be a big success as his special adviser.

“He’s a good boy and he will agree an Israel agreement that no one else would pull off,” he said. His daughter Ivanka, Mr Trump said, would not play a big role in his administration.

“She is busy buying a house . . . she has children so Jared will be engaged as we announced,” he said.

The joint interview with Mr Trump was conducted in New York by Michael Gove, the Brexit campaigner and former British justice secretary, and Kai Diekmann, ex-editor of Bild who is now facing a sexual harassment complaint in Germany.