Trump meets Queen at Wind­sor Cas­tle

Gulf Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Bri­tain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­spect the Cold­stream Guards dur­ing a visit to Wind­sor Cas­tle in Wind­sor, Bri­tain, yes­ter­day. The Queen wel­comed Trump for tea at her royal res­i­dence.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day said the US and Bri­tain could se­cure a “great” post-Brexit trade deal, lav­ish­ing praise on Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and con­tra­dict­ing his own with­er­ing as­sess­ment of her strat­egy pub­li­cised hours ear­lier.

Fresh from send­ing Nato into cri­sis talks and ahead of a sum­mit with Krem­lin chief Vladimir Putin, Trump shocked Bri­tain’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment when he crit­i­cised May’s plans for ties with the Euro­pean Union af­ter Bri­tain leaves in March.

In a news­pa­per in­ter­view pub­lished just hours be­fore hold­ing talks with May, Trump said her Brexit strat­egy would “kill” any chance of a trade deal and said she had not lis­tened to his ad­vice on how to ne­go­ti­ate with the EU.

But, as the two lead­ers stood to­gether for a press con­fer­ence in the gar­den of May’s grand 16thcen­tury of­fi­cial res­i­dence Che­quers, Trump said the Bri­tish leader was do­ing a “fan­tas­tic job”, added it was up to her how to con­duct Brexit, and that a free trade deal was very much on the ta­ble.

Re­la­tions had never been more spe­cial, he said, and any crit­i­cism was “fake news”.

“Once the Brexit process is con­cluded and per­haps the UK has left the EU, I don’t know what they’re go­ing to do but what­ever you do is OK with me, that’s your de­ci­sion,” Trump said.

“What­ever you do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade to­gether, that’s all that mat­ters. The US looks for­ward to fi­nal­is­ing a great bi­lat­eral trade agree­ment with the United King­dom. This is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity for our two coun­tries and we will seize it fully.”

At the same lo­ca­tion a week ago, May fi­nally won agree­ment for her Brexit plans from her Cab­i­net af­ter two years of tor­tu­ous in­ter­nal wran­gling.

But within days, two se­nior min­is­ters had quit, de­par­tures which Trump said ear­lier in the week had left Bri­tain in tur­moil.

Some law­mak­ers in her deeply di­vided Con­ser­va­tive Party have cast May’s “busi­ness-friendly” Brexit plan as a betrayal that would leave Bri­tain too close to the EU and warned that she might face a lead­er­ship chal­lenge.

May’s for­mal pro­pos­als were pub­lished on Thurs­day, but hours later the Sun pub­lished an in­ter­view with Trump where he ap­peared to side with the prime min­is­ter’s crit­ics.

“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,” he told the Sun. “I would have done it much dif­fer­ently. I ac­tu­ally told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t lis­ten to me.”

Asked about that in­ter­view, Trump said he had not crit­i­cised May, lav­ish­ing praise on “a ter­rific woman”, who was smart, tough and ca­pa­ble.

“This in­cred­i­ble woman right here is do­ing a fan­tas­tic job, a great job,” he said. “She’s a to­tal pro­fes­sional be­cause when I saw her this morn­ing, I said: ‘I want to apologise, be­cause I said such good things about you’. She said: ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press’.”

May, like­wise, glossed over the com­ments in the Sun, say­ing her deal pro­vided a plat­form for an am­bi­tious free trade deal. Trump’s re­marks to the Sun were the most bit­ing any US pres­i­dent has ever made on visit to Bri­tain.

How­ever, un­der the blue skies of the Che­quers’ gar­den, he said their re­la­tion­ship was “the high­est level of spe­cial”. How­ever, while Trump and May ex­changed warm words, tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers marched against the US pres­i­dent through cen­tral London, bring­ing much of the cap­i­tal to a stand­still. It was one of the more than 100 demon­stra­tions planned across the coun­try dur­ing his four-day stay.

“The mes­sage we came here to give to­day is that Trump is not wel­come in Bri­tain,” said shop­keeper Gr­ish Gre­go­ran, 58, who took the day off to at­tend. “We wanted to em­bar­rass him and I think we have done that to­day.”

Trump has also fre­quently an­gered Bri­tish politi­cians and has been in­volved in so­cial me­dia spats with London’s mayor Sadiq Khan who he said had “done a very bad job on ter­ror­ism”.

Late last year, May her­self crit­i­cised Trump for retweet­ing a mes­sage by a mem­ber of a Bri­tish far-right group, and the speaker of par­lia­ment has said the pres­i­dent would not be wel­come to ad­dress the cham­ber.

Af­ter leav­ing Che­quers, Trump trav­elled to Wind­sor Cas­tle to have tea with Queen El­iz­a­beth.

He was her­alded by mil­i­tary bands on his ar­rival at the 92-year-old monarch’s home where her grand­son Prince Harry mar­ried US ac­tress Meghan Markle in May.

Queen El­iz­a­beth and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump walk through the Quad­ran­gle to­ward an en­trance at Wind­sor Cas­tle, Wind­sor, yes­ter­day.

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