Trump changes tack on post-Brexit deal

Business Standard - - WORLD -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Fri­day the United States 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 United States 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.

PHOTO: AP/PTI

Op­po­nents of Don­ald Trump float a six-me­tre blimp de­pict­ing the US pres­i­dent as an orange, snarling nappy-wear­ing baby out­side the Bri­tish par­lia­ment

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