Trump addresses trade with Theresa May; prepares for Putin meeting
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she and Donald Trump had agreed to complete a trade deal between their countries as soon as the U.K. leaves the European Union, moving past tensions raised by the U.S. president’s criticism of her Brexit strategy.
“We agreed today that as the U.K. leaves the EU we will pursue an ambitious U.S.-U.K. trade deal,” May said Friday at a news conference with Trump at Chequers, her country estate.
Trump said that the “special relationship” between the two countries is “a bond that is like no other.”
“The United States looks forward to finalizing a great bilateral trade deal” with the U.K., he said. “We want to trade with the U.K. and the U.K. wants to trade with us.”
In an interview with the Sun published late Thursday, as he dined with May, Trump said her proposal to execute a so-called “soft Brexit,” maintaining ties with the EU, was wrong and would torpedo a U.S. trade deal. He further undercut her leadership in his effusive praise of Boris Johnson, a long-time rival who resigned from May’s Cabinet this week over her Brexit policy.
Trump called the Sun story “generally fine” but said that some of his remarks were left out. “We record when we deal with reporters -- it’s called fake news.”
He didn’t elaborate. He said that May is “doing a terrific job.”
Trump’s comments have overshadowed a visit where the president was greeted with British pomp and ceremony -- the lavish gala dinner in his honor at Blenheim Palace last night -- even as protesters tried to rain on the parade.
May was at pains to impress Trump and planned to push for a trade deal in their meeting -- an accord which had seemed like a foregone conclusion in the early stages of their relationship. But even before he arrived, the president criticized May’s Brexit plan, said the country was in “somewhat turmoil” and that meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week -- the British premier’s geopolitical enemy -- would be easier than meeting with her.
--With assistance from Margaret Talev, Kitty Donaldson and Toluse Olorunnipa