Trump touts strong ties after scorning May
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.