Donald Trump, the US presumptive Republican candidate, offered Britain his heartfelt congratulations for voting itself out of the European Union.
“They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
Trump arrived this morning (June 24) at his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, his first foreign trip as presumptive presidential nominee, and quickly held a press conference.
Brexit happened for many of the same reasons he has built up support in the US, he said. “A lot of it is borders, a lot of it is immigration,” he said. “They were not happy with the people flowing into the country,” he said. “They wanted to take their country back.”
President Barack Obama’s decision to come to Britain and weigh in favor of the “remain” campaign may have caused its defeat, Trump said. In April, Obama said Britain would not be offered any preferential treatment by the US if it left the EU, and would have to ”go to the back of the queue” in negotiating a new trade deal.
“I actually think his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail,” Trump said today. Asked if the next step is the dissolution of the European Union, he said: ”It seems to be going that way.”
Trump vowed that he’d forge strong ties with the newly unshackled Britain when he became president. “A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense,” he wrote on Facebook.
It’s unclear how much comfort Brits will take from this. Trump is so disliked here that the British parliament was forced to hold a debate on whether to ban him from entering the country, after more than half a million people signed a petition.
Still, Trump was quick to congratulate Scotland on its resounding choice to leave:
Actually, Scotland voted resoundingly to stay in the EU, with 63% of Scots voting “remain.” All 32 of its council voting area in the country reported a majority vote for staying in the bloc.
“We voted to protect our place in the world’s biggest market,” said Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, in a press conference. “We said clearly we do not want to leave the EU.”
Trump, meanwhile, seemed to have a one-sided view of cooperation. “The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries—and our two peoples—are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration,” he wrote. He didn’t explain why breaking up one bond, between the UK and the EU, is more stable than cementing another. His comments also came as Sturgeon suggested that the divergence in voting results between Scotland and the rest of UK justified another referendum on declaring independence from the UK, following the 2014 vote that was narrowly defeated.
During Trump’s press conference, a protestor handed out golf balls with Nazi swastikas on them.
Trump is hoping America can learn a thing or two from the UK’s historic vote. “I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again,” he wrote on Facebook.