MASSLIVE: British ambassador to the U.S. on Donald Trump: ‘I have to be careful what I say on this’
As originally appearing in

BY  GINTAUTAS DUMCIUS | gdumcius@masslive.com

 

BOSTON–It didn’t take long for Donald Trump to come up.

After the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, spoke to the New England Council, a pro-business group, one of the first questions he received was about the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“I have to be careful what I say on this,” he said, drawing some chuckles from the crowd gathered at the Hampshire House.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has been asked about Trump, Darroch noted, adding, “I can easily just retreat behind his lines.”

“We have disagreed as we often do with the candidates about some of the things they say,” Darroch said, adding that Cameron disagreed with Trump’s talk of a ban on Muslims traveling to the United States.

But Cameron has also said two other things publicly, Darroch said.

“One, that he respects Mr. Trump’s achievement in emerging from that large Republican field as the frontrunner and the certain nominee,” Darroch continued.

“And second, that we will want to work as closely as we can with whoever the American people choose as their elected president in November,” Darroch said.

While there is no invitation, “if either candidate or both candidates choose to pass through the U.K. at some stage before the election in November, both of them, presumed not together, would be welcome in Number 10,” he said, referring to the home and office of the prime minister.

American elections have always drawn plenty of interest inside the United Kingdom, Darroch told MassLive.com after speaking to the New England Council.

“I would say it’s especially interesting because of the success of anti-establishment candidates on both sides…both the Democratic and the Republican side,” he said. “But in the end, we will wait and see who gets elected in November and do our best to work as constructively as possible.”

Darroch also touched on British politics during his talk: The June 23 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union, frequently referred to as the “Brexit,” and the recent election of Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, as London’s mayor, which Darroch called a “great advertisement for British tolerance and openness.”

The June 23 vote has “implications well beyond our shoreline,” Darroch said, adding that American companies see Britain as an entry point to a quarter of the world’s economy.

Massachusetts and the United Kingdom, allies and economic partners, have numerous business and tourism ties.

There are an estimated 60,000 British expats living in the Greater Boston area, and there are 700,000 British tourists who come in through the New England area annually.

Britain would take an economic hit if it left the EU, according to Darroch.

“How is it looking? The answer is that, to be frank, the polls are all over the place,” he said.

Telephone polls show a lead in support for the “remain camp,” while online polls are producing closer results. “There is a lively debate going on between experts about whether telephone polling or online polling is more accurate,” he said.

“I’m hopeful but I would not say complacent,” he added.

“There are four weeks to go and we are prey to events, and have to worry about what a major terrorist event somewhere in Europe will do, for example, to opinion,” Darroch said.

The British government is “not planning for failure,” he said.

“The prime minister has said he will stay on whatever the outcome is and will work to implement the will of the British people,” Darroch said.

 

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