Monday

11th Nov 2019

Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

  • Donald Trump flew from the Nato event in Brussels to London on Thursday (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

US leader Donald Trump has come to the UK during a Brexit crisis, after going through a two-day Nato summit in Brussels like a bull in a china shop.

He will be treated to two days of British pomp, including a royal audience, as well as facing down protests.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Nothing really changed on defence spending, France's Emmanuel Macron (c) said (Photo: nato.int)

His visit coincides with "a pretty hot spot, with many resignations," he noted before take-off from Brussels for London on Thursday, referring to the political crisis over the Brexit white paper.

Trump's "friend", British foreign minister Boris Johnson, this week resigned over UK plans to keep close EU trade ties, as did the Brexit secretary, David Davis, on Monday.

The rebellion could topple prime minister Theresa May and see the UK crash out of the EU with no deal next year.

But Trump was happy to amplify the rebel Conservatives' gripes despite the sensitivity of the situation.

"The people voted to break it up, so I imagine that is what they would do, but maybe they [May's plans] are taking a different route. I'm not sure that's what they voted for," Trump said on Thursday.

The UK was "getting at least partially involved back with the European Union," he added.

He also positioned himself as a popular authority on the subject.

"They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on immigration. I think that's why Brexit happened," he said.

Trump spoke after leaving behind a fog of confusion at a Nato summit in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.

He claimed that he had forced allies to commit to billions extra in defence spending over and above a previous target of two percent of GDP.

What percent?

But France and Germany indicated that nothing had really moved on that front.

"Everyone agreed to raise spending as they agreed in 2014, and everyone agreed to respect the [previous] commitments they made," French president Emmanuel Macron said.

"I think we need to ask ourselves consistently what more we can do," was all that Merkel said.

Trump also publicly speculated whether he could take the US out of Nato without Congressional approval if allies did not spend more.

"I think I probably can," he said.

'Go it alone'?

But his veiled threats that the US might "go it alone" were vague enough to be ignored, Macron also said.

"At no point did president Trump, neither in bilateral meetings nor in multilateral ones, say he would pull out of Nato," Macron said.

"At least not when I was there. He didn't say that to me," the French leader added.

Trump spoke to press on Thursday at an impromptu press briefing, the last of several protocol violations at the summit.

He had earlier used personal language, referring to the German chancellor as "you, Angela". At one point, Nato officials called a brief emergency session to calm things down.

He also turned up late, missing bilateral appointments, and fired tweets at Merkel late into the night on Wednesday.

Twitter diplomacy

Macron said Trump was less abrasive in private than in public.

"I read the 140-character messages [Trump's tweets]. The debates took a different tone. They were frank, but there was no finger-pointing or lack of respect," the French president said.

That observation was born out in Trump's comments on Crimea before he meets Russian leader Vladimir Putin next week.

He told press they would have to wait and see if he recognised Russia's annexation of the territory from Ukraine, but he also signed up, one day earlier, to a Nato declaration on non-recognition of Russia's "illegal" move.

He joked that he was a "very stable genius" on Thursday when asked if his signature was still valid.

For her part, Merkel stayed cool despite Trump's provocations.

"We had an opportunity to have an exchange about economic developments, on issues such as migration, and also the future of our trade relations," she said, after a tete-a-tete on Trump's anti-EU trade war.

"We're partners, we're good partners, and we wish to continue to cooperate in the future," she added.

The chancellor noted that his way of doing business was tiring all the same, however.

"We had a very intense summit," Merkel said.

US mauls Germany over Russia pipeline

US leader Donald Trump, backed by Poland, has begun the Nato summit with a tirade against Germany's plan to build a pipeline with Russia.

Mr Brexit leads mini anti-May rebellion

Britain's Brexit negotiator, David Davis, has resigned in a mini-rebellion, adding to uncertainty on the EU talks as the clock ticks to March 2019.

UK's May moves towards 'soft' Brexit

In the wake of two cabinet resignations on the issue, UK government publishes its long-awaited vision for the future relationship with the EU, which would revolve around a free trade agreement on goods, but would end free movement.

Stage set for Trump-Putin finale

Trump hoped to befriend Putin at a showcase summit in Helsinki, following US president's attacks on Nato and British leaders this week.

News in Brief

  1. EU's climate contribution exceeds €20bn annually
  2. EU-Singapore trade deal enters into force this month
  3. Commission will not probe Borrell over Catalan tweet
  4. Frontex gets its European border police force
  5. EU Parliament loses funding case against Farage-led party
  6. US will not impose car tariffs, says Juncker
  7. Merkel disagrees with Macron on Nato
  8. Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  2. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark
  3. MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay
  4. Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more
  5. Cleaning up both the EU and Western Balkans
  6. Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?
  7. Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria
  8. EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us