Trump hails ties with UK de­spite Brexit crit­i­cism

Oman Daily Observer - - EUROPE -

AYLES­BURY, UK: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day played down his ex­tra­or­di­nary at­tack on Bri­tain’s plans for Brexit, prais­ing Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s lead­er­ship and in­sist­ing ties be­tween the two coun­tries “have never been stronger”.

Trump’s first of­fi­cial visit to Bri­tain was over­shad­owed by his scathing crit­i­cism of May’s plans for leav­ing the Euro­pean Union, which risks en­cour­ag­ing a re­volt among euroscep­tics in her party.

“What­ever you do is okay with us, just make sure we can trade to­gether, that’s all that mat­ters,” Trump told May af­ter talks at her coun­try re­treat of Che­quers, as a colour­ful protest of tens of thou­sands in­clud­ing a “Trump Baby” in­flat­able marched through the streets of Lon­don.

At a press con­fer­ence in the grounds of the 16th-cen­tury manor house, he re­peat­edly praised May’s lead­er­ship, say­ing she was a “ter­rific woman” and ad­mit­ting that Brexit was a “tough sit­u­a­tion”.

They met just hours af­ter an in­ter­view with The Sun tabloid was pub­lished, in which Trump said May’s plans for close fu­ture ties with the EU would “prob­a­bly kill” her hopes for a US trade deal.

He sug­gested this was not what vot­ers wanted, say­ing he had ad­vised May to take an­other path. He added that Boris John­son, who quit as for­eign min­is­ter over the plan, would make “a great prime min­is­ter”.

Trump de­nied on Fri­day that he had crit­i­cised May, sug­gest­ing that there was an el­e­ment of “fake news” in the report — even though The Sun re­leased au­dio record­ings con­firm­ing his words.

His in­ter­view drew out­rage among Bri­tish politi­cians, who ac­cused him of be­ing “de­ter­mined to in­sult” May af­ter 18 months of testy re­la­tions be­tween the pair. They also fired up demon­stra­tors in Lon­don.

Chant­ing “No Trump, no KKK, no fas­cist USA!”, they flew a huge bal­loon of the pres­i­dent de­picted as a cry­ing baby out­side the Houses of Par­lia­ment.

Even Lon­don­ers not protest­ing and stop­ping to take in the mass of peo­ple, plac­ards and slo­ga­neer­ing seemed sup­port­ive of the demon­stra­tions.

Less than nine months be­fore it in­tends to leave the EU, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment pub­lished its blue­print on Thurs­day calling for close trade ties with the bloc, out­rag­ing those who want a cleaner break.

In The Sun in­ter­view con­ducted on Wed­nes­day, Trump said he had ad­vised May on the way for­ward but she had ig­nored him, adding that “it is too bad what is go­ing on.”

“The deal she is strik­ing is a much dif­fer­ent deal than the one the peo­ple voted on,” in the 2016 EU ref­er­en­dum, he told the paper.

He warned staying close to the bloc “will prob­a­bly kill” hopes of a Bri­tish trade deal with the US.

His com­ments echoed the con­cerns of many Brexit sup­port­ers in her Con­ser­va­tive party, and fu­elled talk of re­bel­lion fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tions of John­son and Brexit sec­re­tary David Davis over the plan this week.

They also saw the value of the pound plunge on cur­rency mar­kets.

But Trump said on Fri­day that af­ter speak­ing with May’s of­fi­cials and trade ex­perts that a deal be­tween the two coun­tries “will be pos­si­ble”, adding that Brexit pre­sented an “incredible op­por­tu­nity”.

May added: “We agreed to­day that as the UK leaves the Euro­pean Union, we will pur­sue an am­bi­tious UK-US free trade agree­ment.”

The two lead­ers also em­pha­sised their con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion on de­fence and se­cu­rity, af­ter ear­lier watch­ing a dis­play of spe­cial forces from both coun­tries at the mil­i­tary acad­emy at Sand­hurst.

Trump thanked the prime min­is­ter for her sup­port at a testy Nato sum­mit this week in Brus­sels, where he sub­jected Amer­ica’s other al­lies to a roast­ing over their de­fence spend­ing.

Trump will spend the week­end at one of his Scot­tish golf cour­ses be­fore go­ing to a sum­mit in Fin­land on Mon­day be­tween Trump and Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

May said they had agreed to en­gage with Rus­sia with “strength and unity”, and Trump said he has been “tougher on Rus­sia than any­body”.

Trump has been ac­com­pa­nied on his trip to Bri­tain by his wife Me­la­nia, who met vet­er­ans and school­child­ren in Lon­don on Fri­day along with May’s hus­band Philip.

What­ever you do is okay with us, just make sure we can trade to­gether, that’s all that mat­ters DON­ALD TRUMP US Pres­i­dent

— Reuters

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May hold a press con­fer­ence af­ter their meet­ing at Che­quers in Buck­ing­hamshire, on Fri­day.

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