Michale Gove has bagged the first post-election interview with US President-elect Donald Trump, and the Conservative MP and journalist (he writes a weekly column for the newspaper) tempted the Republican to back a swift US-UK trade deal.
Other lines from The Times exclusive included damning Nato and the European Union, and hailing Brexit is a “great thing”.
But many were more captivated by a photograph half-way down the feature. As one journalist put it:
The floodgates were opened:
Some zeroed in on one aspect of the picture:
It also prompted Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore - associates of Nigel Farage present at *that* meeting at Trump Tower - to roll out similar thumbs aloft snaps:
In the interview, the US President-Elect said he would be inviting Theresa May for early talks in Washington following his inauguration on Friday.
In contrast to Barack Obama, who said Britain would be at the “back of the queue” when it came to a trade deal with the US, Mr Trump made clear it would be a priority for his administration.
“We’re gonna to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides,” he said.
“I will be meeting with (Mrs May). She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House. I think we’re gonna get something done very quickly.”
He disclosed that the Prime Minister had written to him shortly after Christmas with a copy of Winston Churchill’s address to the Americans after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
In her letter, she said she hoped the feeling of “unity and fraternal association” between the two countries was “as true today as it has ever been”.
Speaking to Gove, the former cabinet minister and co-leader of the Leave campaign, Trump also made clear that, unlike Mr Obama, he welcomed the result of last June’s referendum vote.
“People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. Brexit is going to end up being a great thing,” he said.
In a wide-ranging interview, Trump disclosed:
- He wants a new arms control agreement with Russia, saying the numbers of nuclear weapons should be “reduced very substantially”.
- Orders will be signed next Monday strengthening America’s borders which could include travel restrictions on Europeans coming to the US as well as “extreme vetting” of those entering from parts of the world known for Islamist terrorism
- He believes chancellor Angela Merkel made a “catastrophic mistake” when she threw open Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Trump spoke warmly of how he was looking forward to visiting Britain, saying his Scottish mother was “so proud of the Queen”.
“Any time the Queen was on television, an event, my mother would be watching,” he said.
He joked that his Scottish ancestry meant he liked to “watch my pennies”, adding: “I mean I deal in big pennies, that’s the problem.”