Saturday

8th May 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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. Report: Czech minister plotted to bury evidence on Russian attack
  2. Putin promotes Russia's 'Kalashnikov-like' vaccine
  3. Coronavirus: Indian variant clusters found across England
  4. UN report encourages EU methane cuts
  5. EU court upholds ban on bee-harming pesticides
  6. Israeli tourists welcomed back by EU
  7. EU duped into funding terrorist group, Israel says
  8. Brussels prepares portfolio of potential Covid-19 treatments

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  2. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  3. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  4. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit
  5. EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique
  6. EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn
  7. EU mulls using new 'peace' fund to help Libyan coast guard
  8. Poland 'breaks EU law' over judges, EU court opinion says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us