President Donald Trump said on Friday he had a very strong relationship with British Prime Minister Theresa May, having earlier scorned her Brexit strategy which he said had probably killed off hope for a future U.S.-British trade deal.
In an interview published just hours before he was due to have lunch with May and tea with Queen Elizabeth on Friday, Trump chided the “very unfortunate” results of the prime minister’s strategy for negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union.
“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,” Trump told the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper.
U.S. President Trump says relationship with UK is very, very strong
“I would have done it much differently,” he told The Sun, which urged its readers to back Brexit before a referendum in June 2016. “I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”
Trump also heaped praise on Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary this week along with Brexit Secretary David Davis in protest at May’s strategy. Johnson, the president said, “would be a great prime minister”.
No sitting U.S. president has ever made such biting public criticism of a British prime minister while visiting, and his comments undermined May in her party, her country and abroad.
But, as the leaders met for talks at May’s official country residence Chequers, both tried to play down the president’s intervention into the Brexit debate.