Trump could handle Brexit better than Theresa May, Boris Johnson suggests

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he has grown "increasingly admiring" of Donald Trump and appeared to suggest ...

Posted: Jun 8, 2018 9:18 AM
Updated: Jun 8, 2018 9:18 AM

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he has grown "increasingly admiring" of Donald Trump and appeared to suggest that the US President would handle Brexit negotiations better than Prime Minister Theresa May during remarks made at a private dinner earlier this week.

"Imagine Trump doing Brexit," Johnson said, according to a leaked audio recording obtained and published by BuzzFeed News. "I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness."

"He'd go in bloody hard ... There would be all sorts of breakdowns, there would be all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he'd gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It's a very, very good thought," he said.

Johnson reportedly made the remarks at a dinner with fellow prominent Conservatives in London on Wednesday. Buzzfeed did not specify how it obtained the audio, and it's unclear if Johnson knew he was being recorded.

During his speech, Johnson touched upon everything from Brexit to Russia and the upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to Buzzfeed. The site only published audio that related to Brexit negotiations.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Brexit fears are 'total mumbo jumbo'

Johnson, who has clashed with May over Britain's approach to Brexit negotiations, also told the audience he feared his government was heading towards a deal that would keep the UK "locked in orbit around the EU" without "full freedom on our trade policy, our tariff schedules, and not having freedom with our regulatory framework either."

"I will be prepared to compromise over time, but I will not compromise over the destination," he said.

Johnson conceded that there would be bumps in the road during the Brexit process, but chastised those who were worried about the short-term economic downsides and potential turbulence on the UK's borders due to Brexit. A UK government analysis leaked earlier this year suggested that leaving the EU could reduce economic growth by between 2% and 8% over 15 years.

"What they don't want is friction at the border, they don't want any interruption of the economy. So they're sacrificing all the medium- and long-term gains out of fear of short term disruption," he said. "They're terrified of this nonsense. It's all total mumbo jumbo."

The revelations come at a time of deep divisions at the highest levels of the UK government over Brexit, and as Theresa May arrives to meet fellow world leaders at the G7 summit in Canada.

Johnson has repeatedly run into trouble for off-the-cuff and impolitic remarks. Last year, he was forced to backtrack and apologize after suggesting that a British-Iranian woman being held in Iran was teaching journalists when she was arrested. The woman's family maintained that she had not been working, but rather, was visiting the country on holiday, at the time of her arrest.

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