May tries to limit dam­age af­ter Trump’s Brexit at­tack

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS -

LON­DON British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May sought to limit the dam­age from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s out­spo­ken at­tack on her Brexit pol­icy yes­ter­day as she met him for talks at her coun­try re­treat.

Mr Trump warned in a news­pa­per in­ter­view – pub­lished just af­ter she had en­ter­tained him at a black-tie din­ner – that her Euro­pean Union (EU) divorce plan will likely end hopes of a British trade deal with the United States.

He also said she had failed to take his ad­vice and took a swipe at British im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, which Mrs May was in charge of be­fore be­com­ing prime min­is­ter.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be deal­ing with the Euro­pean Union i nstead of deal­ing with the UK, so it will prob­a­bly kill the deal,” Mr Trump said in the in­ter­view in The Sun news­pa­per pub­lished yes­ter­day.

He told the tabloid that it was not what Britons backed when they voted in a June 2016 ref­er­en­dum to quit the EU. He also said erst­while for­eign min­is­ter Boris John­son, who re­signed this week over the Brexit plan, would make “a great prime min­is­ter”.

Re­fer­ring to the Brexit blue­print pub­lished by the gov­ern­ment on Thurs­day, which calls for close trad­ing links with the EU af­ter Brexit, Mr Trump said: “The deal she is strik­ing is a much dif­fer­ent deal than the one the peo­ple voted on... I have just been hear­ing this over the last three days. I know they have had a lot of res­ig­na­tions. So a lot of peo­ple don’t like it.

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

“She wanted to go a dif­fer­ent route. I would ac­tu­ally say that she prob­a­bly went the op­po­site way. And that is fine. She should ne­go­ti­ate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is go­ing on.”

In con­trast, he praised Mr John­son, who Mr Trump said he would like to meet dur­ing his time in Bri­tain. “I think he has got what it takes, and I think he has got the right at­ti­tude to be a great prime min­is­ter,” he said.

Mr Trump’s com­ments un­der­mined the British Prime Min­is­ter as she faces spec­u­la­tion of a lead­er­ship chal­lenge from euroscep­tics in her Con­ser­va­tive Party fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tions of Mr John­son and Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis.

Bri­tain’s Ju­nior For­eign Min­is­ter Alan Dun­can sought to brush off the re­marks, telling BBC Ra­dio: “Don­ald Trump is a con­tro­ver­sial­ist, that is his style... I don’t think we see it as rude.”

Mr Dun­can sug­gested the Pres­i­dent had not seen the de­tails of the plan when he gave the in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day, while also stress­ing that the much-vaunted spe­cial re­la­tion­ship was about much more than Brexit.

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