The Slatest

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Says Trump Told Her She Should Sue the EU

President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May hold a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence, near Ellesborough, northwest of London on July 13, 2018.
President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May hold a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence, near Ellesborough, northwest of London on July 13, 2018. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

At a news conference Friday, Donald Trump said he gave a suggestion to British Prime Minister Theresa May that she found “too brutal.” May finally revealed what that piece of advice was during an interview with the BBC Sunday. “He told me I should sue the EU.” May then repeated the gist of the message: “Sue the EU, not go into negotiations with them, sue them.” May said she was ignoring the U.S. president’s advice. “Actually we’re going into negotiations with them,” she said.

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Without revealing what his suggestion was, Trump said his British counterpart may one day decide to take him up on the idea. “If they don’t make the right deal, she might very well do what I suggested that she might want to do,” he said. For her part, May also chose to highlight another part of Trump’s suggestion she found particularly relevant. “Interestingly, what the President also said at that press conference was, ‘Don’t walk away—don’t walk away from negotiations, because then you’re stuck’.”

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Trump declined to elaborate on what his advice to May had been in an interview with CBS, but expressed confidence it was good. “Maybe she’ll take it, it’s something she could do if she wanted to,” Trump said. “But it was strong advice. And I think it probably would have worked,” Trump said.

The BBC’s legal correspondent makes it pretty clear Trump’s suggestion doesn’t make much sense. “Frankly, it is difficult to see any grounds for the UK suing the EU,” said Clive Coleman. He explains:

Like any other member state, the UK can sue the EU in relation to any specific measure it has taken which breaches EU law.

The UK and the EU have not reached a Brexit agreement yet, so there can be no action for breach of that agreement.

Parties to a negotiation are under what are known as “procedural duties” - for instance, to act in good faith.

But it is very difficult to bring an action, within a negotiation, on that basis. Some would say that even attempting to do so would seriously harm the negotiation.


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