UK's Farage says Trump concerned by Brexit delay after meeting

LONDON (Reuters) - Nigel Farage, leader of the Britain’s Brexit party, said U.S. President Donald Trump told him in a meeting on Tuesday that he was concerned at how long it was taking Britain to leave the European Union.

Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage arrives at Winfield House during U.S. President Donald Trump's state visit in London, Britain, June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Trump has said he considers Farage, who was a major player in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU during the 2016 referendum, a friend and has called him a “smart person”.

Farage said he had enjoyed a “good meeting” with the president and added that Trump was enjoying his state visit to Britain, which began on Monday.

“He absolutely believes in Brexit, thinks it’s the right thing for the country to do, and he’s concerned that it seems to be taking a very long time,” Farage said on his LBC radio show.

Farage was one of the first Britons to visit Trump in New York following his 2016 election victory, and the president recently described him as “a friend of mine.”

In an interview at the weekend with the Sunday Times newspaper, Trump said: “I like Nigel a lot. He has a lot to offer - he is a very smart person.”

Farage was pictured by a Reuters photographer arriving at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London where Trump is staying during his state visit after the president returned there following a news conference with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump earlier said May deserved a lot of credit for her work on Brexit.

May’s Brexit deal has been defeated by British lawmakers three times, and Farage, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, has been one of her staunchest critics, saying Britain should not be afraid to leave without a deal on future relations with the EU.

May has been forced to delay Brexit until Oct. 31 after failing to pass her deal.

Trump is holding discussions with several other British politicians, including some, like Farage, who are May’s critics.

Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith were also seen at the Winfield House residence on Tuesday, while the favorite to succeed May, Boris Johnson, spoke with him on the phone for 20 minutes earlier on Tuesday.

But Trump said he had declined a request from British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for a meeting.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; additional reporting by Henry Nicholls; editing by Stephen Addison