Michael Gove has landed the first British interview with Donald Trump for The Times (where he is, now, a columnist). This is his first interview since he spoke to Justin Welby for The Spectator - it’s online and as good as you’d expect. The ability to build such bridges won't hurt Gove should he want to return to government. Here are the main points:-
Trump congratulates Britain for Brexit.. He says: "People don't want to have other people coming in and destroying their country. I thought the UK was so smart in getting out [of the EU]... Obama said: they'll go to the back of the line [queue]... that was a bad statement."
And is keen on a quick trade deal with the UK When asked about a trade deal, he replied: "Absolutely, very quickly. I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides. I will be meeting [Theresa May] — in fact if you want you can see the letter - wherever the letter is - she just sent it. She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and... we’re gonna get something done very quickly.”
Trump thinks Angela Merkel made a "catastrophic mistake" in tearing up EU immigration laws to welcome Syrian refugees. “I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from.”
And he places Merkel in the same bracket of mistrust as Vladimir Putin: "Well, I start off trusting both — but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.” He said he likes her, "but people make mistakes".
And partly as a result, he thinks the UK won't be the last country to leave the EU. "People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it... entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. This was the final straw that broke the camel’s back... I believe others will leave... I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”
He says Nato is "very important to me" but wants its members to cough up. “I took such heat when I said Nato was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat, for two days. And then they started saying: Trump is right And the other thing is the countries aren’t paying their fair share so we’re supposed to protect countries. But a lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States. With that being said, Nato is very important to me. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much.”
And about the ex-MI6 spy who compiled the Moscow dossier: “That guy is somebody that you should look at, because whatever he made up about me it was false.... If I did that in a hotel it’d be the biggest thing. They’d have me on the front page of the New York Post, right? And the other thing, I can’t even, I don’t even want to shake hands with people now I hear about this stuff.”
There's much, much more in the full interview - read it here.