Donald Trump says UK 'doing great' after Brexit vote

The UK is “doing great” following its vote to leave the EU, US President-elect Donald Trump has said.

In his first UK interview, with former justice secretary Michael Gove for the Times, Mr Trump said he thought the UK was “so smart in getting out”.

Mr Trump promised a quick trade deal between the US and the UK after he takes office in five days time.

He also criticised Nato and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies.

Mr Trump spoke to the Times and German newspaper Bild ahead of his inauguration on Friday.

‘Crazy’

Mr Gove – who was a prominent Leave campaigner during last year’s referendum – asked Mr Trump whether the UK was “at the front of the queue” for a trade deal with the US following the Brexit vote.

“I think you’re doing great, I think it’s going great,” he replied.

The question referred to President Barack Obama’s comments last April that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” if it left the EU.

“Trump said Brexit is going to happen, and it happened. Everybody thought I was crazy,” the president-elect continued.

“Obama said, ‘They’ll go to the back of the line,’ and then he had to retract his statement.”

Mr Trump added: “Countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity, but I do think if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees than you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

His comments come ahead of the launch of a cross-party campaign called Brexit Together.

The campaign aims to bring together political voices from both sides of the EU Referendum debate to develop a “shared vision” on issues such as immigration, the economy and market access, security and sovereignty.

During the interview, held in Mr Trump’s offices in Trump Tower, New York, the president-elect also said he thought Mrs Merkel was the “by far the most important European leader”.

“If you look at the European Union, it’s Germany – it’s basically a vehicle for Germany,” he said.

Mr Trump described Mrs Merkel’s immigration policy as a “big mistake”, but said “people make mistakes”.

He also stressed that he would “start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs Merkel” on taking office, but would “see how long that lasts”.

Nato ‘obsolete’

Talking about international security, Mr Trump argued that he had said “a long time ago that Nato had problems”.

“One; that it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago, and number two; that the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”

Last November, Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May and Mr Trump discussed the need for more countries to commit to spending 2% of national income on defence, when they spoke on the telephone after the US election.

Other topics Mr Trump discussed included his mother’s “love” of the Queen.

“She was so proud of the Queen,” he said. “She loved the ceremony and the beauty, because nobody does that like the English, and she had great respect for the Queen and liked her.

“Any time the Queen was on television, for an event, my mother would be watching.”

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