The UK is “doing great” following its vote to leave the EU, US President-elect Donald Trump has said.
In his first UK interview – with former Justice Secretary Michael Gove for the Times – Mr Trump said he thought the UK was “so smart in getting out”.
Mr Trump promised a quick trade deal between the US and the UK after he takes office on Friday.
He also criticised “obsolete” Nato and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies.
Mr Gove – who was a prominent Leave campaigner during last year’s referendum – asked Mr Trump whether the UK was “at the front of the queue” for a trade deal with the US following the Brexit vote.
“I think you’re doing great, I think it’s going great,” he replied.
The question referred to President Barack Obama’s comments last April that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” if it left the EU.
“Trump said Brexit is going to happen, and it happened. Everybody thought I was crazy,” the president-elect continued.
“Obama said, ‘They’ll go to the back of the line,’ and then he had to retract his statement.”
Mr Trump added: “Countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity, but I do think if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees than you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”
Speaking about a potential US-UK trade deal, he said: “We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.”
His comments come ahead of the launch of a cross-party campaign called Brexit Together.
It aims to bring together political voices from both sides of the EU Referendum debate to develop a “shared vision” on issues such as immigration, the economy and market access, security and sovereignty.
One of the campaign’s founders, Labour MP Caroline Flint, said “a lot was said in both campaigns… that left the public feeling quite baffled at some of the rhetoric”.
It is “absolutely right we should have a good trading relationship with the EU and, of course, getting a deal with the US would be a fantastic opportunity as well”, she added.
Meanwhile, the man tipped to become Mr Trump’s ambassador to the EU, says the president-elect is committed to securing a trade deal with the UK and preliminary talks could begin ahead of its formal departure from the bloc.
Theodore Malloch, a professor at Henley Business School in Reading, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you want to facilitate something it can be done in an expeditious manner so I would hope on the day Britain triggers Article 50 Mrs May would be able to announce we have just started discussions with the United States.”
Mr Trump also talked about the recent dip in the value of the pound.
“The fact that your pound sterling has gone down? Great,” he said, “because business is unbelievable in a lot of parts in the UK, as you know. I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing.”
The president-elect’s views came as Chancellor Philip Hammond said the UK may be forced to change its “economic” model if it is locked out of the single market once it leaves the EU.