1. ITV Report

Trump’s Brexit intervention is perfectly reasonable, says Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Stefan Rousseau/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Donald Trump’s explosive Brexit intervention has received a markedly different response from Leavers to Barack Obama’s dalliance in the debate.

In the months before the referendum, the then US president faced an angry backlash when he warned that Britain would be at “the back of the queue” for American trade deals if it quit the EU.

Tory MP Simon Hart said the comments had been “considered outrageous” so “no doubt the same will be said of Trump…”.

But Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted the case was different.

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He had attacked Mr Obama for being “splendidly arrogant” and insisted “no true, honest Briton is going to be told what to do by a Yankee president”.

Responding to Mr Trump’s comments, however, the chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tories insisted the intervention was not the same as his predecessor’s.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He (Mr Obama) was coming during an election period, whereas what Donald Trump has set out is primarily his view on whether the US will do a trade deal with United Kingdom on the basis that we adopt the common European rulebook and stick to all the EU’s rules.

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“He’s saying ‘Well, that’s a choice for you, that if you do that, you won’t be able to make a deal with the US’.

“That’s a perfectly reasonable thing for an American president to say and there’s no election going on at the moment, so it’s not trying to persuade us to do something in an election that we wouldn’t otherwise do.”

Boris Johnson, then London mayor, had described Mr Obama’s stance as “bizarre”.

Dominic Raab criticised former US president Barack Obama’s intervention in the Brexit debate Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Among other prominent critics of the then president were Dominic Raab, now Brexit Secretary, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who was on the backbenches at the time.

Mr Raab said: “This is really about a lame duck US president about to move off the stage doing an old British friend a favour.”

Dr Fox insisted that Mr Obama’s views would be irrelevant as there was a looming US presidential election and said it would “seem bizarre if we weren’t able to take advantage of a trade relationship”.

So far, they have not responded to Mr Trump’s intervention.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage had said Mr Obama and was being manipulated by Number 10 and branded his intervention “shameful”.