Donald Trump blames dissolution of European Union on refugees — ‘all of these illegals’ – Los Angeles Times

President-elect Donald Trump blamed Europe’s acceptance of Mideast refugees — as he put it, “all of these illegals” — for the decision by Britain to leave the European Union, and predicted the organization would disintegrate barring a reversal of immigration policies promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” Trump told representatives of the Times of London and the German publication Bild about the June Brexit vote. “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.”

“I believe others will leave … I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

Merkel, a longtime U.S. ally who is facing election this year, came in for tough treatment from Trump, who also criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has been the western bulwark against Russia on the European continent.

At one point, he appeared to equate Merkel with Russian leader Vladimir Putin — a put-down given the German-U.S. alliance but representative of Trump’s frequent praise of Putin.

“Well, I start off trusting both — but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all,” Trump said.

Trump said that under Merkel, Germany had tried to take over the EU, an organization he said was faltering because of her policies.

“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,” he said, repeating some of his favorite campaign rhetoric.

In the United States, entering refugees face up to two years of investigation before they are allowed to come into the country. But Trump throughout the campaign — and now into his imminent presidency — has portrayed them as a threat to Americans.

Trump told the reporters he would sign orders beginning Monday to restrict travel from Europe and would impose “extreme vetting” for those coming from places with known problems with Islamist terrorism. He has never made clear which countries would fall under that umbrella.

Trump’s statements, while in keeping with positions he took in the campaign, represent a sharp break from decades of U.S. policy. Politicians of both major parties have, until now, favored a more globalist approach, including international trade deals that Trump also scorned during his successful run for president.

In contrast with Trump’s predictions of the EU’s demise, President Obama tried to persuade Britain to stay in the organization before the June referendum ended in a surprise departure vote.

Trump’s criticism of NATO likewise ran askance from U.S. policy since the organization was formed after World War II. It was in keeping with Trump’s campaign threat to base decisions on whether the United States would back up member nations on the extent to which they helped finance NATO.

“I said a long time ago that NATO had problems,” he said. “Number one it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.” He specifically blamed the organization for not blunting terrorism.

The president-elect indicated that he would meet soon after his inauguration with British Prime Minister Theresa May, and vowed to negotiate an immediate trade deal with Britain. In theory, that would help prop the nation up as it moves to disentangle itself from its European neighbors.

“We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides,” Trump said.


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