President Trump on Thursday said he may meet with pro-Brexit U.K. politicians, including one running to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, when he visits the U.K. next week.
Trump told reporters outside the White House that he may meet with Nigel Farage, head of the Brexit Party and a Fox News contributor, and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is the current favorite to replace May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.
“Well I may,” he said. “Nigel Farage is a friend of mine, Boris is a friend of mine, they’re two very good guys, very interesting people.”
May resigned last week over her handling of Brexit, sparking a leadership race to succeed her. Her resignation came a day after the European Parliament elections, where Farage’s Brexit Party — formed just this year — came in first with almost a third of the vote.
“Nigel’s had a big victory, he picked up 32 percent of the vote starting from nothing, and I think they’re big powers over there — I think they’ve done a good job,” Trump said.
Asked whether he’d be formally supporting them he said: “Well I like them, they’re friends of mine, but I haven’t thought about supporting them, maybe it’s not my business to be supporting people but I have a lot of respect for both of those men.”
Farage, being from a different party, isn’t running for the Conservative Party leadership. Johnson has said he intends to run — and is the favorite of many who favor a “harder” exit from the European Union in October.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has warmed to Trump in recent years. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
Trump will be in the U.K. from Monday to Wednesday, marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day before traveling to France on Thursday to participate in a ceremony in Normandy.
May will still be in charge when Trump visits, and will step down on June 7, with a leadership contest beginning a few days later. It is far from clear what a backing of a candidate by Trump could have on the leadership race.
Trump has long been friendly with both Farage and Johnson, as well as supportive of the Brexit movement. Johnson had initially been critical of Trump in 2015 (once saying "The only reason I wouldn't visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump"), but has warmed to his as president.
Johnson, who was born in New York, said last year that he is “increasingly admiring” of the U.S. president and that he is more convinced that "there is method in his madness." He then asked his audience to imagine the billionaire handling the Brexit negotiations.
“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson said in remarks leaked to BuzzFeed News. “He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”