Pomp and protests in London greet Trump, who slams May’s Brexit plan
President marks first visit to Britain
LONDON — President Donald Trump lobbed a verbal hand grenade into Theresa May’s carefully constructed plans for Brexit, saying Thursday that the British leader had wrecked the country’s exit from the European Union and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States.
Mr. Trump — who was dishing up a fresh dose of chaos while making his first presidential visit to Britain after leaving behind a contentious NATO gathering in Brussels — told The Sun newspaper he had advised Ms. May on how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”
“She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on,” the president said in an interview that overshadowed a pomp-filled welcome ceremony.
The Rupert Murdochowned tabloid published an interview with Mr. Trump as Ms. May was hosting him at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Britain’s World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill — the leader who coined the term “special relationship” for the trans-Atlantic bond.
The president also blamed London’s Muslim mayor for terror attacks against the city and argued that Europe was “losing its culture” because of immigration.And Mr. Trump saidhe felt unwelcome in London because of protests, including plans to fly a giant balloon over Parliament on Friday that depicts him as an angry baby in a diaper.
On Thursday, activists gave a taste of the protests planned on Friday, though the crowd thinned out after the president left for the dinner at Blenheim Palace. But organizers hope to mount the biggest weekday demonstration in Britain since protests against the Iraq War more than a decade ago.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” said Mr. Trump, who on Friday will meet with Ms. May outside of London, and then fly to Windsor Castle to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
The president claimed Europe is “losing its culture” because of immigration from the Middle East and Africa.
“Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a sham,” he said. “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.”
The Sun said the interview was conducted Thursday in Brussels, before Mr. Trump traveled to Britain. His remarks on Brexit came the same day Ms. May’s government published long-awaited proposals for Britain’s relations with the EU after it leaves the bloc next year.
The document proposes keeping Britain and the EU in a free market for goods, with a more distant relationship for services.
The “soft” blueprint for the U.K.’s future dealings with the EU has infuriated Brexit supporters, who think sticking close to the bloc would limit Britain’s ability to strike new trade deals around the world. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis both quit the government this week in protest.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Johnson, Ms. May’s now ex-foreign secretary, “would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump said what Ms. May proposed on Brexit would hurt the chances of a future trade deal between the U.K. and the United States.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Mr. Trump said.
Arriving for a black-tie dinner Thursday with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, west of London, are, from left, first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Philip May, spouse of the prime minister.