DONALD TRUMP has shockingly revealed Theresa May’s choice to opt for a soft Brexit may have killed off the chance of striking the long-promised trade deal between the US and the UK, and has hit out at the Prime Minister for failing to listen to his negotiation advice.
The US President made the shock claim he is ready to walk away from the negotiating table at the working lunch with the PM at Chequers scheduled for today.
Trump explained his reasons, suggesting he would have done Brexit “much differently”.
Speaking to the Sun, he said: “I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.
“She wanted to go a different route.
“I would actually say that she probably went the opposite way. And that is fine.
“She should negotiate the best way she knows how.
“But it is too bad what is going on.”
The American firebrand’s remarks were revealed while the President dined with Mrs May at a lavish black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, during which she has made a case for a new trade deal with the US.
But speaking to the Sun before the evening event, the President claimed the Prime Minister’s plan “will definitely affect trade with the United States, unfortunately in a negative way”.
He said: “We have enough difficulty with the European Union.
“We are cracking down right now on the European Union because they have not treated the United States fairly on trading.
“No, if they do that I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”
When asked if he is determined to walk away during the negotiations tomorrow, the US President said: “Oh, absolutely, I think what is going on is very unfortunate.
“You know, deals that take too long are never good ones.
“When a deal takes so long, they never work out very well.”
Trump continued to then question whether Mrs May’s new Brexit plan upholds the referendum result.
He said: “The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.
“It was not the deal that was in the referendum.”
The Prime Minister finally reached a “collective” agreement on the basis of the future relationship between the UK and the EU last week at Chequers.
The joint statement signed by the Prime Minister and her Cabinet ministers put forward a plan for an “economic and security partnership” with the EU.
The plan, a close regulatory alignment with the EU’s single market for British exports, is a firm push towards a Brexit end-state that looks very much like Norway.
Leading Eurosceptics Boris Johnson and David Davis resigned as a result of the agreement on Monday.
Both political figures believed leaving the EU would make Britain a more attractive trading partner but the Soft Brexit blueprint put a question mark over it.
Theresa May’s aim during Donald Trump visit in the UK is to push for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.
As a single country the US is the largest export market for the UK, but it is behind the EU when the bloc is viewed as a single market.
The Prime Minister will hold bilateral talks over a working lunch at Chequers today.
Fraudsters have tricked scores of Nigerians by selling them football World Cup fan passes to travel to Russia, leaving many stranded and penniless, victims and anti-trafficking campaigners say.
Some Nigerians told AFP they used the official Fan IDs to come to Russia with the promise of finding work or even playing professional football themselves.
Others said they came to watch World Cup matches but got stranded when their return plane tickets were cancelled by bogus travel agencies that booked them.
Ismail Olamilekan, 21, and his brother Sodiq, 25, said they paid 250,000 naira (600 euros, $700) each to a man in Lagos for their Fan IDs.
“The man told us that with the Fan ID we could get a job and stay here,” Ismail told AFP at a hostel on the outskirts of Moscow.
“But when we got here we discovered that it was a fraud, that he had just collected the money and lied to us.”
– ‘Football career’ –
The plastic-coated passes issued by the Russian government enable foreign fans to enter the country without a visa during the World Cup — but they expire before the end of July.
They are issued free to fans who have bought tickets for World Cup matches. But some agents sold them to Nigerians who wanted to come to Russia to work.
It was not clear how the bogus agents obtained the Fan IDs that they sold.
A FIFA spokesman stressed that the Fan IDs system was implemented by the Russian communications ministry.
FIFA “continues to make efforts to identify and curb unauthorised ticket sales”, he added.
The Olamilekan brothers spent about a thousand dollars each for their plane fare to Moscow, on top of what they paid separately to the agent.
“In Nigeria I play football. He told me that if I started working I can also start a (football) career in Russia,” Ismail Olamilekan said.
– Nigerians ‘stranded’ –
A fellow Muslim was allowing the brothers to sleep in his hostel until their return flight on July 22.
Other Nigerians however found themselves stranded in Russia after fraudulent “agents” who booked return flights for them then cancelled the bookings to get a refund.
A group of about a dozen Nigerians waiting at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport on Tuesday told AFP they had been sleeping there for days.
Some of them said they paid more than a million naira each to an agent for a package including flights, match tickets and a fan ID.
“We’ve been sleeping on the floor like fools. We’ve got no place to go,” said Alonge Ademola, 35, a cement dealer from Lagos.
“We really do want to go back to our country. We’ve cried, we’ve wept, but still no solution.”
Russian charity Alternativa said it had helped about 50 Nigerians stranded in Russia and estimated there were about 200 in difficulty overall.
“With globalisation the opportunities for criminals are also increasing. The Fan IDs make an extremely profitable business for them,” said the group’s spokeswoman, Yulia Siluyanova.
– ‘Natural’ problem –
Siluyanova told AFP on Thursday that the authorities in cooperation with Alternativa had made arrangements for about 20 stranded Nigerians to be flown back home.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing that the issue of stranded fans was “not desirable but it’s also natural”.
“It’s really a problem that primarily the fans themselves should resolve along with diplomatic and consular missions of their countries,” she said.
The Nigerian embassy did not respond to requests for comment.
“You can’t rule out that some of the foreign guests, taking advantage of visiting the World Cup, are counting in some way or another, usually illegally, on crossing the Russian border and entering one of the European countries,” Zakharova said.
“If such an action is recognised as illegal, the relevant authorities will take the necessary administrative measures.”
– Lesson learnt –
The Olamilekan brothers meanwhile are waiting to board the return flights that they bought with money their parents borrowed.
“We don’t have any option but to go back home and work and pay our parents’ debts,” Ismail said.
“I spoke to them last night. They asked if we’ve got a job and if we’re living well and I decided to tell them yes. I don’t like lying to my parents,” he said.
“I still give thanks to God because He has taught me a lesson.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to be patient with him as his administration made efforts to tackle ongoing killings in parts of the country.
He said members of his security teams were racking their brains to come up with a lasting solution.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President as saying this while condemning killings of many people, including a district head, in and around Gandi village in Rabah Local Government of Sokoto State by bandits.
“I wish to assure all Nigerians that their security is receiving the greatest attention from this administration and there is no compromise in this commitment.
“I appeal for your patience while my security teams crack (sic) their brains to put an end to this horrendous violence,” Shehu quoted Buhari as saying.
The President said his government would no longer tolerate violence against innocent Nigerians.
He threatened that any attempt to try his government’s will would be met with equal force.
He wondered why murderers would be targeting innocent people for no just cause.
The President said, “This wanton violence against innocent people won’t be tolerated by this government, and we are working round the clock to identify the people sponsoring these heartless attacks.
“It is curious why any group of mass murderers would be targeting and killing innocent people for no just reason.
“Make no mistake about it, my administration remains committed to security as one of its core objectives, and any attempt to test our will by any group of anarchists and troublemakers will be met with equal force.
“Identifying and defeating these callous killers is receiving priority from this administration, and we shall spare no effort in tracing the root of this evil, especially their sources of funding and arms.”
Buhari promised that although these hit-and-run gangs of mass murderers were using unconventional tacts, they would eventually be defeated.
The President also warned that “this administration will not allow any group of barbarians and criminals hold the country hostage and destroy life without consequences.”
He extended his condolences to the government, families of the victims and the people of Sokoto State at large over what he called “these incredible losses of lives at the hands of these enemies of humanity.”
He assured then that the Federal Government would give all possible assistance to the state in dealing with the tragic incident.
The Reformed -All Progressives Congress has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to nullify the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress held on June 23, 2018.
The Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the APC was elected at the said convention.
R-APC’s request was contained in a letter dated 4th July, 2018, which was signed by its National Chairman, Alhaji Buba Galadima, and addressed to the National Chairman of INEC.
A copy of the letter entitled: “Request to invalidate the purported election of National Officers of the All Progressives Congress and not to recognise them”, was seen by The PUNCH, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
In the letter, Galadima said he was writing the letter as a foundation member of the APC, a member of its Board of Trustees, National Caucus and an automatic delegate at its national convention.
He drew the attention of the INEC to what he said was “a purported convention” held by APC on 23rd June, 2018.
He said the convention was flawed and undemocratic and that it followed disputed congresses held at various wards, local governments and states.
He said the flawed congresses which led up to the national convention were marred with serious irregularities and manipulations to the extent that in at least 22 states, parallel congresses were held and a different set of delegates and officers emerged.
The letter partly read, “In particular the “election” of the following officers of the party was in direct contravention of Article 20(1) of the APC Constitution.”
It also read, “Furthermore, in the course of the convention proceedings, many other persons purportedly withdrew from the contest for the various offices, and the convention chairman announced them as unopposed and “elected” without following any form of due process. This affected the position of the National Secretary and others.”
As part of its requests tendered before INEC, the R-APC said in the letter, “We respectfully, therefore, request INEC to intervene, following precedents established over the years, to declare invalid and unlawful and not to accord any form of recognition to officers purportedly elected at the APC Convention of June 23, 2018.”
When one of our correspondents contacted Galadima, on the telephone, he confirmed that he authored the letter.
He said, “Yes, I wrote the letter, it is genuine.”
When contacted on the telephone on Wednesday, the Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said he was not aware of the request as he was not in Abuja.
He, however, promised to find out on Thursday.
The INEC director said, “I am not in Abuja at the moment but I can find out tomorrow.”
Despite a roaring and brilliant display, England’s 3 lions team are coming home.
England’s bid to reach a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an end as they lost in extra time to Croatia in Moscow.
But the mood on social media remained as positive as it has been for the past three weeks.
Former England players shared their thoughts on the current team and focused on the future.