Trump UK visit: what the President said about Theresa May, Brexit and Sadiq Khan
US President also hails Boris Johnson as future Prime Minister in interview described as verbal grenade
President Donald Trump has blasted Theresa May for her handling of Brexit and shot down the chances of a trade deal on the first day of his official visit to the UK.
Speaking to The Sun ahead of last night’s gala dinner at Blenheim Palace, Trump said the prime minister’s soft Brexit blueprint will mean the end of any future trade deal with the US.
“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,” the president said.
Trump's remarks have “driven a bulldozer” through May's claim that the UK would be able to get decent trade deals with the wider world, while sticking to the EU rules, according to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg.
The US leader also claimed that the PM ignored his advice on Brexit negotiations: “I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me".
Trump “has once again torn up standard etiquette for diplomacy by turning up, not with flowers or a bottle of wine – but a verbal grenade,” says The Guardian’s David Smith.
The two leaders are due to hold bilateral talks at Chequers this lunchtime, followed by a joint press conference. Trump will then head to Windsor Castle for tea with the Queen before travelling to Scotland.
With tens of thousands of protesters due to greet him in the capital today, the president said he was pleased not to be spending much time in London during his three-day trip to the UK.
“I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?” Trump said.
He also attacked Sadiq Khan for allowing a giant “Trump baby” blimp to fly over Westminster and said the London Mayor had done a “very bad job” on tackling terrorism and crime in the capital.
However, Trump had nothing but praise for Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson, whom he described as “a very talented guy” who would “be a great prime minister”.
The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration didn’t expect the interview to be published so soon and White House officials were left “scrambling” for what to say to May today.
“There’s no way Trump will apologise,” a senior US official told the newspaper. “But we also don’t want to blow everything up.”