Ron DeSantis slaps down EU and says Brexit was RIGHT for Britain

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis has praised Brexit and said the days of big EU-style trade deals are 'over'

Richard Jeffries

By Richard Jeffries

Published: 30/04/2023

- 18:14

Updated: 30/04/2023

- 18:16

American Presidential hopeful says that - like Donald Trump - he would have voted Leave in EU referendum

Ron DeSantis, one of the favourites to be the next president of the United States, has lavished praise on Brexit - and vowed to help get a US/UK trade deal over the line.

The 44-year-old Republican said Brexit was a "good idea" and that he would have voted to quit the EU had he been a British citizen.

And the Governor of Florida said he would seek a "mutually beneficial" trading agreement between Britain and the United States - something he could never accept with the EU - if he wins the keys to the White House next November.

Asked about Britain's decision to leave the European Union during a whistle-stop tour of the UK, he said: “I personally thought it was a good idea.

"If I lived here I would have supported it. From a US perspective, when you have an allied country that makes a decision you should accept that."

In an apparent dig at President Joe Biden, he said the US shouldn't try to meddle and force Britain closer to Brussels.

“It [Brexit] appealed to me philosophically," he added.

"Even that aside, from an American perspective, we should not be trying to nudge in the other direction.”

His words echo those of former US President Donald Trump - currently the favourite in the race to be Republican candidate for the White House in 2024 - who criticised Theresa May's Brexit deal and claimed Britain should have negotiated far more aggressively with the EU.

Like many Republicans, DeSantis opposes large multilateral trade agreements with harmonised rules and restrictions, but he hinted that he would seek a special deal with the UK.

He said he still felt - like Trump - that Britain and America had a special relationship, despite Democrat Joe Biden snubbing King Charles' Coronation.

Ron DeSantis Kemi Badenoch

Ron DeSantis lavished praise on 'anti-woke' Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch

10 Downing Street

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “It’s a unique relationship. I think we will always be very, very strong allies.

“If you think about it, and if you look at the world, there’s only a handful of countries that we could even plausibly say will be with us when the chips are down. For us the UK is one of those, without question.

“I do sense, just for being on the ground for a day, the relationship with the US is something that people here really appreciate. They value the friendship. That’s meaningful.”

He added: “In America, the days of these massive trade deals with all these different countries, those days are probably over.

"The trading is going to be based on bilateral agreements.

"There is a much better chance that there could be something that is mutually beneficial between the UK and the US, rather than doing something with the entire EU or the entire Pacific.

"It is possible."

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly meets Ron DeSantis in London

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly meets Ron DeSantis in London

Foreign Office

De Santis met with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly during a brief trip to London.

He lavished praise on Badenoch for her efforts to make sure “woke ideology” is not “corrupting British society”.

Badenoch, who is also the minister for women and equalities, has been outspoken on issues such as gender-neutral lavatories and removing removing references to the British Empire from the school curriculum.

DeSantis said woke ideology was “a war on the truth”.

He went on: “When institutions get infected by woke ideology, it really corrupts the institutions.

“We look at woke infiltrating schools as a problem, woke infiltrating bureaucracies as a problem and woke infiltrating corporate America as a problem."

Earlier, the conservative firebrand and Cleverly discussed ties between Britain and the US state he represents while visiting the Foreign Office.

DeSantis has not officially announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination but is widely expected to do so.

He also addressed speculation over his potential run at the White House, adding “I’m going to go through our legislative session, get the people’s business done. I’m still in the midst of that.

“I’ve got about another week or so of that, and then I have the Budget and everything. I’m not going to make any decision before then.

“But the end of that time is coming, it’s closer now than it was six months ago. So just stay tuned.”

Donald Trump remains hugely popular in the GOP and is currently odds-on (3/5) with UK bookmakers to win the Republican nomination for next November's presidential election.

DeSantis is second favourite at 11/4. Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina, is a distant third at 25/1.

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