Donald Trump has said leaving the EU would not put Britain at the back of the queue to secure a US trade deal under his presidency – a move applauded by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, who admitted he had reservations about backing the controversial Republican.

Referring to Barack Obama’s warning to Britain over the EU referendum, Trump, who is on track to secure the Republican nomination, said: “I think if I were from Britain I would probably want to go back to a different system.”

Questioned about Britain’s place in any queue under a Trump presidency in an interview with Piers Morgan, to be broadcast on ITV on Monday, he said: “I don’t want to say front or anything else.

“I mean, I’m going to treat everybody fairly but it wouldn’t make any difference to me whether they were in the EU or not. You’d certainly not be at the back of the queue, that I can tell you.”

Responding to clips from the broadcast, shown on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Farage, who had criticised Obama’s intervention, welcomed Trump’s comments. He said: “It just goes to show Donald Trump is measured, neutral, doesn’t want to get stuck into the punch-up. He’s given a very diplomatic answer.”

Asked if he would back Trump, Farage, who has said he shares concerns about an out-of-touch political class with the American, implied he would do so, but reluctantly.

“I have difficulty with that,” Farage told Peston. “Let’s put it like this, I couldn’t vote for [Hillary Clinton] even if you paid me.

“If you put me up against a wall it would be [Trump] not Hillary, but I have reservations. Encouraging people to beat up protesters, one or two things like that bother me, but look, I tell you what, I think he’s going to win.”

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