Both looked embarrassed as May drowned in praise
They were two people making an awkward attempt to pretend away their embarrassment.
Donald Trump had been caught red handed being rude about his host, so like naughty boys everywhere tried to blame it on someone else.
“We record when we deal with reporters – it’s called ‘fake news’.”
As usual, his remarks were a reality free-zone. The president’s staff are even reinforcing his time bending claim that he opened Trump Turnberry on the day of the Brexit vote, predicting the result.
The media were there, too – and we also record. In fact, he flew in the day after.
Perhaps for the first time, however, Trump did look a bit sheepish. Posing for pictures before the talks, he rolled his eyes in mock disgust at a question about his interview with the Sun, but the pantomime gesture wasn’t entirely convincing.
Later, he revealed he even said sorry. Donald Trump can feel shame – who knew?
The Prime Minister was just trying to get through the day in her usual easygoing manner. Her premiership offers up plenty of competition, but this has been one of its worst weeks. All May needed was a post-brexit trade offer and for nothing else to go wrong.
So why were the podiums placed in the Chequers garden, down a set of three steps? It guaranteed pictures that Downing Street can’t have wanted, as the president grabbed May’s hand.
Like everything else about Trump’s treatment of her, the gesture felt patronising and undermining – he repeatedly referred to May in the third person without using her name, as she stood two feet away. He spoke for twice as long as she did, casting fresh doubt on UK-US trade, attacking the press and spreading far-right ideology behind a Downing Street podium, in front of British and US flags.
She looked like she was drowning in the hollow praise raining down.
“Yesterday we had breakfast, lunch and dinner and then I said, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ – and we are having breakfast and lunch with Theresa May and I’m going to see her again later!” Trump said, not quite nailing the tone.
“I would much rather have her as my friend than my enemy,” he went on. “And we are friends,” she shouted – but he was already taking the next question.
Donald Trump takes to the lectern at Chequers