Trump touts strong ties af­ter scorn­ing May

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

CHE­QUERS: United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said yes­ter­day he had a very strong re­la­tion­ship with British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, hav­ing ear­lier scorned her Brexit strat­egy, which he said had prob­a­bly killed off hope for a fu­ture US-British trade deal.

In an in­ter­view pub­lished just hours be­fore he was due to have lunch with May and tea with Queen El­iz­a­beth yes­ter­day, Trump chided the “very un­for­tu­nate” re­sults of the prime min­is­ter’s strat­egy for ne­go­ti­at­ing Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be deal­ing with the Euro­pean Union in­stead of deal­ing with the UK, so it will prob­a­bly kill the deal,” Trump told the Ru­pert Mur­doch-owned Sun news­pa­per.

“I would have done it much dif­fer­ently,” he told The Sun, which urged read­ers to back Brexit be­fore a ref­er­en­dum in June 2016.

“I ac­tu­ally told May how to do it, but she didn’t lis­ten to me.”

Trump also heaped praise on Boris John­son, who re­signed as for­eign sec­re­tary this week, along with Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis, in protest at May’s strat­egy. John­son, Trump said, “would be a great prime min­is­ter”.

No sit­ting US pres­i­dent has ever made such bit­ing pub­lic crit­i­cism of a British prime min­is­ter while vis­it­ing, and his com­ments had un­der­mined May in her party, her coun­try and abroad.

But, as the lead­ers met for talks at May’s of­fi­cial coun­try res­i­dence here, both tried to play down the pres­i­dent’s in­ter­ven­tion into the Brexit de­bate.

“We re­ally have a very good re­la­tion­ship,” Trump said.

“To­day we are talk­ing trade and we are talk­ing mil­i­tary.”

Asked by a US re­porter if he re­gret­ted his com­ments to The Sun, Trump looked away and shook his head.

“We’ve got a lot to dis­cuss,” May said, adding they would talk about the British-US “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” and op­por­tu­ni­ties for a trade deal.

British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May shak­ing hands with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as he ar­rives for a meet­ing at Che­quers yes­ter­day.

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