Trump says UK would be better off without EU

Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Charleston. West Virginia, 5 May. [Reuters].

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said yesterday (5 May) he thought Britain would be better off outside the European Union.

“I think the migration has been a horrible thing for Europe. A lot of that was pushed by the EU. I would say that they’re better off without it personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation – just my feeling … I would say that they’re better off without it, but I want them to make their own decision,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

Trump has often commented on European Union policy, calling Brussels a Muslim-infested “hellhole” in January, unleashing a tsunami of ironic comments by residents of the EU capital in social media.

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US Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said German Chancellor Angela Merkel was wrong to let in thousands of migrants into Germany and that the refugee crisis could trigger revolutions and even the end of Europe.

Trump stirred similar outrage in the UK, over remarks that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States.

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British lawmakers yesterday (18 January) debated a petition to ban US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from Britain over remarks on Muslims, but while describing his comments as “crazy” and “offensive”, most said the ban would go against free speech.

The billionaire television personality will be Republican candidate for the 8 November election, following his victory in Indiana, and his two remaining rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, dropping out of the GOP race.

In the meantime, Republican lawmakers, operatives and donors grappled with whether to support him.

As Trump sought to rally the fractured party behind his leadership, many prominent Republicans lined up him, while some weighed their options, including voting for Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.

Bill Achtmeyer, the Boston-based founder of consulting firm Parthenon Group, was among those considering a possible vote for Clinton.

“If she is able to move to the center and think as creatively and thoughtfully as her husband (Bill Clinton) did … boy, I would have a very hard time, based on what I know today, not voting for Hillary versus what Trump is espousing,” said Achtmeyer, who has donated $200,000 to Republicans over the last decade.

Another Republican donor, David Beightol, a Washington lobbyist who raised money this year for the presidential bid of Jeb Bush, said he was leaning towards voting for Trump because he could not support Clinton.

“I’m not there yet, but I don’t have a lot of choice,” Beightol said.

In most US elections cycles, party insiders quickly coalesce around candidates once they have effectively sewn up the nomination. But Trump’s bombastic rhetoric, unorthodox campaign and his lack of experience in government have left the party divided.

The reality TV star has vowed to deport illegal immigrants and build a wall along the Mexican border, arousing enormous consternation across the political spectrum, including the Republican Party, which has worked hard to appeal to American’s core liberal voters: Latinos, Jews, and African-Americans.

Former Republican presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush do not plan to endorse anyone in the White House race this year, their spokesmen told Reuters. The party’s presidential nominee in 2012, Mitt Romney, will not attend the Republican National Convention in July, an aide said. The former Massachusetts governor delivered a blistering attack on Trump in March.

The party’s 2008 nominee, US Senator John McCain of Arizona, has said he would support the eventual nominee, “who is now presumptively Donald Trump”, said McCain’s Senate campaign spokeswoman, Lorna Romero.

But McCain told supporters in Arizona last month that having Trump at the top of the Republican ticket make his re-election harder, according a recording obtained by Politico. The state has a large Hispanic population.

On Wednesday (4 May), fresh from his triumph in Indiana’s primary, Trump pledged to unify the party and said he was getting calls from people who had criticized him in the past, but who now wanted to back him. Supporters of Trump, who has never held elective office, said he could ease concerns about his lack of experience by choosing a well-known running mate. Republican Representatives Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee and Chris Collins of New York both suggested former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump told CNBC on Thursday there was a 40% chance his vice presidential pick would be a former Republican presidential rival.

Backers said Trump could mend ties with allies of Cruz, who had been his strongest challenger, and had trumpeted himself as a true conservative, by meeting with lawmakers in person after a heated campaign in which Trump dubbed the US senator from Texas “Lyin’ Ted.”

Cruz’s supporters on Capitol Hill have ties to conservative activists and the Tea Party, groups that could help Trump raise money and turn out voters. DesJarlais said meeting Trump in person would improve their impressions of him.

Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), a Cruz backer told, a radio station that he saw Trump as favoring the political “establishment” even though he has run as an outsider. But he said Trump would likely appoint a conservative to the US Supreme Court, a priority for many on the political right.

“With Clinton, there is no chance,” Labrador said. “In my opinion, there’s just no choice between the two.”

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