By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Friday that President Donald Trump is eager for a U.S. trade deal with Britain once it breaks away from the European Union.
“President Trump remains very eager to cut a bilateral trade deal with an independent Britain. It’s what the people voted for in 2016, and when they get out, whether it’s now, April 12 or later, we’ll be standing right there waiting for them,” Bolton said in an interview with Reuters Television.
Trump had told reporters on Thursday that he wished British Prime Minister Theresa May well as she tries to find a path to a Brexit deal that can pass Parliament. A third attempt at passing a deal failed on Friday, sowing more confusion.
“It’s very complicated inside Britain,” said Bolton. “I know they’re going through a lot of turmoil. But really I think the president would like to reassure the people of the United Kingdom how strongly we feel, that we want to be there when they do come out of the European Union.”
He said Trump emphathizes with May but would not comment on whether May should step down.
“I think the president sympathises with anybody going through some of the pressure that Prime minister May is. He’s certainly seen his share of it and I think being a man who empathises with people in that position that’s what he’s expressing. But I’m sure it’s not appropriate for us to speculate really on what the prime minister should do, or her party.”
As for whether Britain should hold a second Brexit referendum, Bolton said the vote from the first one in 2016 was clear.
“In the European Union they like to say, ‘we make the people vote until they get it right,’ meaning pro-EU votes. So I guess I’d say if you’re going to hold a second referendum and ‘remain’ wins, they ought to hold a third referendum and call it best two out of three,” said Bolton.
(Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish)