Donald Trump's national security advisor has said the United States would "enthusiastically" support a no deal Brexit and accused the European Union of treating voters like “peasants”.
Speaking after talks with Boris Johnson at Downing Street today, John Bolton laid out the White House's vision for a closer trans-Atlantic relationship after Brexit.
He said that the President had ordered officials to “fast track” a comprehensive free trade agreement with the UK and predicted a healing of rifts between London and Washington on security issues, including on Huawei's access to the UK's 5G market.
"The main purpose of the visit is to convey President Trump’s desire to see a successful exit from the European Union for the UK on October 31," Mr Bolton said.
Asked if that meant the US would support a no-deal Brexit, he said: "If that is the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically. That is the message I am bringing: we are with you.”
"Britain’s success in successfully exiting the EU is a statement about democratic rule and constitutional government that is important for Britain but for the US too,” he added.
"The fashion in the European Union when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elites want to go, is make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right.”
Mr Bolton is the most senior Trump administration official to meet Mr Johnson since he succeeded Theresa May as prime minister last month.
The White House’s enthusiastic support for Mr Johnson reflects hopes that he will be more receptive than his predecessor to Mr Trump’s hardline foreign policies regarding China and Iran.
Mr Bolton denied asking for a “quid quo pro” in the form of shift in British foreign policy.
But in a sign of possible convergence, he said British officials told him they were going "back to square one" on their assessment of whether to allow Huawei to build parts of UK 5G networks.
Earlier this year Mrs May’s decided to allow Huawei limited access to the UK 5G market, despite US demands that it be blocked from participating.
He also praised the decision to send British warship to join operations Sentinel, the US naval security mission in the Persian Gulf, following Iranian attacks on oil tankers.
Previously Britain had said it would take part in a European-led mission in the Gulf.
Mr Bolton said a post-Brexit trade deal could be expedited by concluding separate sector-by-sector agreements rather than a full-comprehensive deal in one go.
Ministers will be hoping that agreeing such deals with the US quickly will put more pressure on the European Union to engage with the UK's request to take the Northern Ireland backstop out of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Mr Bolton also said he saw “no threat” to the Good Friday agreement from a no deal.
He singled out manufacturing and car making sectors as potential candidates for a fast track deal. He declined to comment on concerns raised in Britain about exposing the NHS to a US free trade deal, saying he did not understand the problem.