News & Politics

Trump Criticizes May on Brexit Negotiations: 'I Would Have Taken a Tougher Stand'

President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May will undoubtedly be upset with President Trump’s interview with Piers Morgan, which was aired on British TV yesterday. In the interview, Trump criticized May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations with the EU, telling Morgan that he would have taken a much tougher attitude towards Brussels.

“Would it be the way I negotiate?” Trump asked. “No, I wouldn’t negotiate it the way it’s [being] negotiated…. I would have had a different attitude.”

Of course, Morgan continued to press the American president after those statements. “I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be,” he answered. “I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out.”

These remarks will boost voices of Brexiteers who are calling for a “hard Brexit,” meaning a Brexit without a specific deal with the European Union — a clean, total breakaway. This faction of diehard Brexiteers is led by Boris Johnson, May’s foreign secretary and possible challenger for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

It goes without saying that May undoubtedly wishes that Trump wouldn’t share his opinion on the Brexit negotiations, especially  since passionate Brexiteers have criticized May for being too weak on the EU in the past. Their criticism of the prime minister is clearly shared by Trump, which further undermines her position as leader of both the Tories and Britain’s cabinet.

On the other hand, May probably has no one to thank for Trump’s criticism but herself. After all, she angered Trump when she criticized him for retweeting tweets from British far-right extremists. Trump undoubtedly wasn’t aware of the ideology of those extremists, but May decided to use his retweets as a stick to beat him with nonetheless. It’s not exactly surprising that Trump has now used the opportunity to strike back, especially on an issue he knows something about: negotiating deals.

Besides, Trump is right. May has made enormous mistakes in the Brexit negotiations, and she seems unable to understand that, in negotiations, it’s of vital importance to come across as strong and determined. All too often, May comes across as a beggar with a hat in her hand, asking the EU to — pretty please! — give her a coin or two.