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In Newspaper Op-Ed, Donald Trump Jr. Scolds Theresa May Over Brexit


Donald Trump Jr. has written a provocative op-ed in London's "Telegraph" newspaper. In the piece, President Trump's eldest son argues that British Prime Minister Theresa May should have listened to his father's advice about Brexit. NPR's London correspondent Frank Langfitt is with us now.

Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: So this is kind of unusual.

LANGFITT: Yes (laughter).

MARTIN: What is the crux of Don Jr.'s arguments?

LANGFITT: Well, what he says is Brexit and Trump supporters are basically brothers-in-arms fighting for independence against a global elite that's trying to overturn popular votes. And in America, what he says - he cites officials who have discussed, apparently, reportedly removing his father from office using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. Here, he finds the parallel in the U.K. are Brexit politicians who say Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to sabotage Brexit with this deal that she can't seem to get through Parliament that could keep Britain tied to the EU indefinitely.

And here's one of the money quotes. He says, why is this important for Americans? Because Brexit is an example of how the establishment elites try to subvert the will of the people when they're given the chance. And he also says democracy in the U.K. is all but dead (laughter).

MARTIN: Wow. So how's that going over?

LANGFITT: Well, it's...

MARTIN: I mean, drawing a parallel between Brexit and the Trump revolution.

LANGFITT: He is. And what's interesting here is, of course, the language is extreme by any standard. But some Brexiteers and certainly the far-right press here would largely agree with him. And I'll give you an example. You know, many Brexiteers and others feel that May's deal, which she's struggling with, doesn't deliver on the referendum of 2016. And that's one reason it keeps getting voted down in Parliament.

There's also talk of a second Brexit referendum. This infuriates Brexit supporters. They say democracy isn't a best-out-of-three vote, and even some people who were in support of remaining in the EU don't want a second referendum for just this reason. So there is something here, not so much in the language but the idea that does - that would resonate to some degree with some Brexiteers.

MARTIN: But what about more broadly in the British population? I mean, is anyone saying, hey, Don Jr...

LANGFITT: No, it doesn't...

MARTIN: ...Mind your own business?

LANGFITT: Yeah, they are. So people who support remain - and it - on Twitter, are pretty dismissive, as you would imagine. David Lammy, he's a member of Parliament with the Labour - the opposition Labour Party, and here's what he wrote this morning - Donald Trump Jr. telling Britain our democracy is dead. Is it a joke? The same Trump Jr. who met a Kremlin-linked lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016 after he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. So you get a lot of - some of the response this morning on Twitter is, really, you know, given all the problems and scandals that the Trump administration has faced, you're giving us advice?

MARTIN: Right. What about Theresa May? Has she weighed in?

LANGFITT: She has not. And I'm sure she won't go near this at all (laughter). She has so many other problems.

MARTIN: Right. It's true. She's busy.

LANGFITT: This is just not something that she wants to go near. She's having trouble. She has to go back to Brussels, to the EU, probably tomorrow and ask for some kind of a short extension because they can't get this through Parliament here. One thing that's interesting, though, is that, I think, while some of the ideas here would resonate ordinarily, the context and the messenger are probably the problem. You know, this is the son of a president. This is a very strange thing to see. It is not what normally happens in foreign policy.

MARTIN: Right.

LANGFITT: And the other thing is that the idea that people in the United States would be giving advice to politicians in the United Kingdom when both sides of the Atlantic are at sort of unprecedented levels of political chaos just doesn't seem to make much sense...

MARTIN: Right.

LANGFITT: ...or hold much water.

MARTIN: NPR's Frank Langfitt in London for us this morning. Frank, thanks.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILL VAN HORN'S "LOST MY MIND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Langfitt
Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as the war in Ukraine and its implications in Europe. Langfitt has reported from more than fifty countries and territories around the globe.
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