UK politicians have hit out at the President’s following his no-holds-barred interview with The Sun newspaper, in which he said he would have done the Brexit negotiations “much differently” and claimed the Prime Minister had not listened to his advice.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry gave a remarkable defence of Mrs May, saying it had been “extraordinarily rude of Donald Trump to behave like this”.
Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston said Mr Trump is “determined to insult” the Prime Minister.
— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) July 13, 2018
Mr Trump said: “If they [the UK] 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.
“If they do that I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.
“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.
“She wanted to go a different route.”
He stressed he would be happy to walk away form the negotiating table with the UK.
His highly-controversial remarks came at the end of a day in which he had already waded deeply into the Brexit row over Theresa May’s white paper ahead of his first official visit to Britain as President.
He had used a Thursday morning press conference in Brussels to attack the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and highlight Cabinet divisions.
In a Sun interview released while Mr Trump and First Lady Melania were being entertained by the Prime Minister at Blenheim Palace, the president said: “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”.
Mr Trump also used the interview to:
- Say Boris Johnson would make a “great” Prime Minister and that “he’s got what it takes”.
- Said protesters who plan to demonstrate against his visit make him not want to visit the capital – but that “any people are delighted” with his four-day visit.
- Criticise London Mayor Sadiq Khan for terrorist events in the city, saying he had “done a very bad job on terrorism”. “Allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” he added. “I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job.
The trade deal comments, following on from the morning press conference, will a cause of great concern for Mrs May.
She had used the Blenheim black tie dinner with political and business leaders to press Mr Trump on the benefits of a free trade deal after Brexit.
Addressing the 100-strong group the Prime Minister said there was an “unprecedented” opportunity to do a deal that boosted jobs and growth in both countries.
Mr Trump arrived at London Stansted Airport at 2pm on Thursday for his four-day working visit.
Flanked by his wife Melania, Mr Trump stepped from Air Force One in a dark suit with a red and black tie. He was greeted on the tarmac by a military entourage which included UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
He shook hands with officers before stepping straight on to a VH-60N White Hawk helicopter which transported him to Blenheim Palace to meet Theresa May.
Melania, wearing a block colour, form-fitting midi dress, clenched her husband’s hand as she stepped off the plane.
Speaking about the protests – that includes a giant balloon baby flown over Parliament – Trump told reporters in Brussels that he was well-regarded by Brits.
He said: ‘They like me a lot in the UK. I think they agree with me on immigration.’
He added: ‘I think that’s why Brexit happened.’
Trump had been reacting to recent fractions within the Cabinet over Brexit.
He said: ‘I am going to a pretty hot spot right now with a lot of resignations.’
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Asked about his views on the UK’s plans for Brexit, Trump said: ‘I would say Brexit is Brexit. The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route – I don’t know if that is what they voted for.’
He added it seemed as if the UK was ‘getting at least partially involved back with the European Union’.
‘I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly,’ he said.
The President also backed down over threats to pull the US out of Nato after other leaders agreed to increase defence spending ‘like they never have before.
He described himself as a ‘very stable genius’ for securing agreements for extra cash after years of the burden falling on America.
Trump said he told counterparts on Wednesday that he was ‘extremely unhappy’ with the lack of progress being made towards meeting the alliance target of spending 2% of GDP on defence.