Saturday 22 September 2018

Theresa May doing a 'fantastic' job on Brexit, says Donald Trump and brands criticism of UK Prime Minister as 'fake news'

  • Donald Trump says looks forward to trade deal with UK
  • In interview, had said UK PM May doing Brexit wrong
  • Mr Trump says criticism of Mrs May was "fake news"
  • Thousands join protest against visit 
Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump walk through the doors at Chequers, after he arrived for talks at her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump walk through the doors at Chequers, after he arrived for talks at her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, with British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, during their meeting at Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, England, Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, with British Prime Minister Theresa May, right, and members of their staffs, during their meeting at Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, England, Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
U.S. President Donald Trump poses for photographs with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (UNSEEN) at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May during a meeting with US President Donald Trump at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May poses for photographs with U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May poses for photographs with U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May poses for photographs with U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS
A U.S. Marine Corps Osprey sits in a field after carrying White House staff and Secret Service to a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Prime Minister Theresa May awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump for a meeting at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May awaits the arrival of US President Donald Trump for a meeting at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
US President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at Chequers, her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Jack Taylor/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump walk through the doors at Chequers, after he arrived for talks at her country residence in Buckinghamshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 13, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Trump. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

Jeff Mason and William James

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he looked forward to finalising a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, marking an abrupt change from a newspaper interview when he said Prime Minister Theresa May's strategy would kill such an agreement.

In an interview published just hours before the two leaders held talks, Mr Trump chided the "very unfortunate" results of the prime minister's proposals for Brexit and her negotiating tactics as Britain prepares to leave the European Union in March next year.

However, Mr Trump later said Mrs May was doing a "fantastic job".

"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," Mr Trump told a press conference with Mrs May in the garden of her official country residence Chequers.

"Whatever you do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade together, that's all that matters. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries and we will seize it fully."

Last week at the same location, Mrs May finally won agreement for her Brexit plans from her cabinet but within days two senior ministers had quit, departures which Mr Trump said earlier in the week had left Britain in turmoil.

Hours after those proposals were formally published, Mr Trump cast further doubt on the strategy, delivering a withering verdict in an interview with the Sun newspaper.

"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 said. "I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't listen to me."

Asked about that interview, Mr Trump said he did not criticise the prime minister and was gushing in his praise of his host, saying she was tough and capable.

"This incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job, a great job," he said. "Unfortunately, there was a story that was done which was generally fine, but it didn't put in what I said about the prime minister and I said a tremendous thing. It's called fake news."

 

"HIGHEST LEVEL OF SPECIAL"

Mrs May, likewise, glossed over the comments.

"We agreed today that as the UK leaves the European Union we will pursue an ambitious U.S.-UK free trade agreement," she said. "The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to pursue an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies."

Mrs May and Mr Trump both spoke of the importance of the "special relationship" between their two countries, something that Brexit supporters hope will reap benefits when Britain leaves the EU, allowing it to forge closer trade ties with the world's biggest economy.

"I would say I would give our relationship in terms of grade the highest level of special," Mr Trump said.

However, many have cast Mrs May's "business-friendly" plan as a betrayal that would leave Britain too close to the EU, including lawmakers in her deeply divided Conservative Party who have warned that she might face a leadership challenge.

During the press conference, Mrs May also thanked Mr Trump for his support over Russia which Britain has blamed for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in southwest England in March.

Mr Trump is due to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has rejected the nerve agent claims, at a summit when he finishes his four-day visit to Britain and said he would raise the issue of reducing nuclear weapons.

"It will certainly be something that we bring up and talk about," the US president said.

As Mr Trump and Mrs May spoke, thousands of protesters marched against the president through central London, one of more than 100 demonstrations planned against the president during his stay.

While Mr Trump's trip was not a full state visit, he has been given red carpet treatment and is scheduled to have tea later with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, where her grandson Prince Harry married US actress Meghan Markle in May. 

Huge baby blimp depicting US President Donald Trump is flying over London 

'Where are your manners, Mr President?' - UK minister responds to Donald Trump's criticism of Brexit blueprint 

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Meet the Glumps.... Donald Trump and Theresa May look far from happy  

Reuters

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