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Trump pledges to ‘stay out’ of Britain’s election campaign

Trump pledges to ‘stay out’ of Britain’s election campaign

AFP
London
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised to “stay out” of Britain’s election campaign during a two-day visit, while also seeking to defuse a key attack line against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over healthcare.
Downing Street is braced for fireworks as Trump attends a meeting of the NATO military alliance in Britain, just days before a crucial election on December 12.
In his first press conference on Tuesday, the notoriously unpredictable US leader tried to avoid controversy in repeated questions about British politics. “I’ll stay out of the election,” Trump said, adding: “I don’t want to complicate it.” He declined to repeat his previous criticism of main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, although he praised Johnson as “very capable and I think he will do a good job”.
But answering questions during talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, he could not stay out of an election issue that Labour has put at the heart of its campaign.
Corbyn claims US firms are seeking to exploit Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) in any UK-US trade deal London signs after leaving the European Union.
But Johnson said last week that if Washington tried to include the NHS in trade talks, “we’d walk away”.
There is speculation that, in the middle of an election campaign, Johnson wants to avoid appearing too close to a US president who is deeply unpopular in Britain.
On Tuesday Trump insisted: “We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter.”
Trump supports Brexit but he publicly criticised former prime minister Theresa May’s approach, suggesting she give up on trying to get a divorce deal with Brussels.
The US leader has since questioned whether Johnson’s own deal would allow a trade deal with Washington -- something the premier touts as a big prize of Brexit.