Trump vows to stay out of elec­tion

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By PARIS GOURTSOYAN­NIS

Don­ald Trump and First Lady Me­la­nia arrive at Clarence House to meet the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Corn­wall ahead of to­day’s Nato sum­mit.

Don­ald Trump has in­sisted Amer­ica wants “noth­ing to do with” the NHS amid fears the health ser­vice could be used as a bar­gain­ing chip in post-brexit trade talks.

The US pres­i­dent, speak­ing in London at the start of a Nato sum­mit, claimed he would “stay out” of the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign be­cause he does not want to “com­pli­cate it”.

It comes six months af­ter he an­swered a ques­tion about the NHS dur­ing a pre­vi­ous visit to the UK, say­ing: “When you’re deal­ing in trade, ev­ery­thing is on the ta­ble.”

His com­ments eased fears at Con­ser­va­tive Party head­quar­ters that Mr Trump’s visit could de­rail Boris John­son’s elec­tion cam­paign.

Labour has made the pro­posed US-UK trade deal a cen­tral theme of its cam­paign, and the con­tro­ver­sial US Pres­i­dent’s un­pop­u­lar­ity risks con­tam­i­nat­ing the Prime Min­is­ter if their close per­sonal re­la­tion­ship is put on show this week.

Mr Trump did go on to de­scribe Mr John­son as “very ca­pa­ble” and said he would be meet­ing the Prime Min­is­ter dur­ing his visit to the UK.

Asked if the NHS should be on the ta­ble in trade talks, the US Pres­i­dent replied: “No, not at all, I have noth­ing to do with it. Never even thought about it, hon­estly.”

The pres­i­dent added: “I don’t even know where that ru­mour started. We have ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a sil­ver plat­ter, we want noth­ing to do with it.”

Mr Trump said he could “work with any­body” when asked about the prospect of Jeremy Cor­byn as prime min­is­ter, though ear­lier said he thought Mr John­son would do a “good job”.

Mr Cor­byn joined lead­ers for a re­cep­tion at Buck­ing­ham Palace last night, but the SNP’S West­min­ster chief Ian Black­ford and Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Jo Swin­son were not ex­pected to at­tend.

While steer­ing clear of UK do­mes­tic politics, Mr Trump did ig­nite a fresh diplo­matic row with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, ac­cus­ing him of “in­sult­ing” Nato al­lies.

The US pres­i­dent said Mr Macron had been “very dis­re­spect­ful” af­ter he claimed in an in­ter­view that the al­liance was “brain dead”.

Mr Macron’s at­tack fol­lowed Turkey’s in­cur­sion against the Kurds in north­ern Syria with­out warn­ing other Nato mem­bers – a move that alarmed other al­lies.

“It is a very, very nasty state­ment,” Mr Trump said. “I think they have a very high unem­ploy­ment rate in France. France is not do­ing well eco­nom­i­cally at all.”

The two men met later at the US am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence, where Mr Trump ac­knowl­edged the need for greater “flex­i­bil­ity” in the way in which Nato re­sponded to global threats. Mr Macron in turn ac­cepted the US had “over-in­vested” in the al­liance for “decade af­ter decade” – a long-stand­ing US com­plaint.

The main Nato talks take place to­day at the Grove, a coun­try house ho­tel near Wat­ford. The meet­ing is ex­pected to con­sider new threats in the ar­eas of cy­ber and space, af­ter the al­liance last month de­clared space one of its op­er­a­tional do­mains.

0 French pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron met with Don­ald Trump

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