Donald Trump is a “white knight” coming to the rescue of “damsel in distress” Theresa May, the man tipped to be the president-elect’s ambassador to the European Union has said.
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Monday, Ted Malloch said Trump could “re-engender” the UK-US relationship with a free trade deal following Brexit.
Malloch, an ally of Trump who is currently an academic at the Henley Business School, also said Germany had “tilted the table” in its favour at the expense of other poorer EU member states - raising the question about the break-up of the bloc.
And he said while the president-elect believed Nato to be “old and tired” any separate EU-only military force would be little more than an army with “designer uniforms and no guns”.
Trump’s comments in an interview with The Times today that Nato was “obsolete” and his prediction that other EU members will leave the union has caused concern in European capitals.
The president-elect also said the UK was “smart” to quit the EU as it had become a “vehicle for Germany”.
Malloch said he agreed with Trump’s view of Berlin. “Germany has basically tilted the table to benefit themselves, to benefit their economy and benefit their economic wellbeing at the cost of the peripheral states in Europe - particuarlly the southern ones. This is a long standing issue,” he said.
“Berlin is more ascendent. It is the strong economy in Europe. They have benefited from the system they helped invent and other countries are coming to the conclusion that it may not be the best deal for them.”
He added: “One of the questions would be not just be will the EU go away - probably not - but how does it get redefined?”
Asked about Trump’s suggestion more countries could leave the EU, Malloch said: “He has to read the tea leaves and looked at the election possibilities between now and September. There are a number of candidates. We have elections all over Europe.
“I don’t want to suggest how they will go, but I could see a three or four countries basically having elections that puts this question back on the horizon.”
Malloch said Trump’s criticism of Nato, which was today welcomed by Russia, was not something new as he had made similar comments during the campaign.
“I think the view is, to paraphrase Donald Trump, is Nato is old and tired and needs to be reinvented. So ‘obsolete’ might not be the right handle,” Malloch said.
“One of the key issues for Trump, and something that has really stuck with him and people around him, is what we used to call the issue of burden sharing. So that means if countries don’t pay for Nato they shouldn’t reap the benefits of Nato.
“Only five of Nato members are paying the 2% of GDP which is the price of admission. I belong to a club in London. If I didn’t pay my fees, the next time I went there they would tell me I can’t have lunch.”
It will be an army with designer uniforms and no gunsTed Malloch on the EU Army
He added of Brussels’ plans to create an EU military force outside of Nato: “The EU is proposing a cheap club. Pay 1% of GDP and join the Western European army. It will be an army with designer uniforms and no guns.”
Trump’s nominee to be defence secretary, General James Mattis, has appeared to be at odds with the president-elect, having described Nato as central to US security.
Malloch said Trump and Mattis would “have to have a conversation between themselves” about Nato.
Brexit campaigners have seized on Trump’s comments that a trade deal with the UK could be “done quickly and done properly” as evidence that leaving the EU will be a success.
Malloch said the election of Trump had “the potential to re-engender the US-UK special relationship with Theresa May.
“Trump is a little bit like a white knight in this case. She’s like the damsel in distress,” he said.
He said a trade deal could be put on the table “in short order” that would be “very helpful” to the UK.