Trump tariff threat to Irish trade adds to Brexit chaos

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 15, 2019

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was "surprised at how badly" Brexit has gone and that UK Prime Minister Theresa May ignored his advice on how to better handle negotiations.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2018.

"It's tearing a country apart", said Trump, who has cheered from the sidelines for Brexit and the populist and nationalist British politicians who have championed it.

"I'm surprised at how badly it's all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation", he said.

During a speech at the Vice President's US Naval Observatory residence, the Irish leader said his fascination with American politics at a young age "helped to inspire me to believe in the power of politics to do good because ultimately that is what politics is all about".

He said: "I don't think another vote would be possible because it would be very unfair to the people that won".

The prime minister said while their views on Brexit differ, the relationship between the USA and Ireland remains strong. Varadkar opposes Britain's European Union exit and expressed concern about how such a move would affect Northern Ireland.

"We have a different opinion, president", said the Irish prime minister.

Meanwhile, at the traditional St Patrick's Day shamrock ceremony at the White House, Mr Varadkar praised Mr Trump for the results of his efforts to "Make America Great Again".

Bilateral relations and the Irish undocumented immigrants in the U.S. were on the agenda for Mr Varadkar's Oval Office meeting with Mr Trump, but Brexit dominated their talks. "I regret Brexit's happening". Britain's exit from the European Union had been scheduled for March 29.

The president said he and Varadkar discussed the issue during their Oval Office meeting.

Mr Trump was asked by reporters if he was still a Brexit supporter.

"I thought it would happen, it did happen, and both sides are very, very cemented in".

The most concerning element for Ireland, Varadkar said, is that Brexit should not cause any problems in Northern Ireland, which voted to stay in the EU.

She told BBC News NI that she would "very much" like to se the United States president visit Northern Ireland. "I think it'll be a few years until the United Kingdom sorts itself out, but in the meantime the European Union is available to talk trade with the USA".

Varadkar continued, "We shouldn't have a hard border, or anything to disrupt the peace process".

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