Donald Trump has arrived in Ireland to meet prime minister Leo Varadkar – and made a bizarre comparison between his plans for a Mexican border wall and the Irish border.
As the pair met in front of journalists, he said: “We have millions of Irish and I think I know most of them because they are my friends, we love the Irish, so it’s an honour to be here, we will be discussing various things, probably he’ll ask me about Brexit because I know some very good people that are very likely to welcome Brexit.
“I think it will all work out very well also for you, with your wall, your border, I mean we have a border situation in the United States.”
It led to Varadkar interjecing that Ireland wished to avoid a border or a wall.
“I think you do, I think you do,” Trump replied. “The way it works now is good, you want to try and to keep it that way. I know that’s a big point of contention with respect to Brexit. I’m sure it’s going to work out very well. I know they’re focused very heavily on it.”
Asked about the United States as a guarantor of peace in Northern Ireland, Trump said: “I think what’s going to happen is over the next period of time is, first we have to wait to see who is going to be prime minister, and I think it’s a very important decision, we’ll see what happens over in the UK because that’s going to be decision number one, who is going to be prime minister.
“Once that happens, that person will get in and try to make a deal and maybe if they don’t make a deal, they do it in a different way but I know one thing, Ireland is going to be in great shape, Ireland is a special place that’s going to be in very good shape.
“I don’t think the border is going to be a problem at all.”
Speaking after the meeting, Varadkar said Trump “didn’t elaborate on why he thinks Brexit would be good for Ireland”.
Asked if was concerned that Trump appeared to compare the Irish border with the US/Mexico border, he said: “We very much discussed the different nature of the border and I explained that 20 or 30 years ago we did have a hard border between north and south, particularly when the Troubles were happening and there were customs posts and so on, and that everyone in Ireland – north and south, unionist and nationalist – want to avoid a return to a hard border, but that Brexit is a threat in that regard and an unintended consequence that we can’t allow.”
Trump’s meeting with the Irish prime minister follows talks on Tuesday with Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt and Nigel Farage.