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LONDON — Tacking in a different direction, President Donald Trump said Friday that the relationship between the United States and Britain is “very, very strong” and praised Prime Minister Theresa May for working “very hard” with him during a just-finished NATO summit in Brussels.
Trump’s remarks came just hours after the British tabloid The Sun published an interview with Trump in which he torched May over her handling of the U.K.’s impending divorce from the European Union and, perhaps more important, said that if her plan for Brexit goes forward it would “probably end” the chances of a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Britain.
When asked directly whether he regretted the interview, which appeared at a time when May’s job is on the line over her proposal for a “soft” Brexit, Trump closed his eyelids and rolled his eyes.
May and Trump were meeting at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house, where Trump said they planned to discuss trade and military issues.
“The relationship is very, very strong,” Trump said.
But Trump’s interview with The Sun sent a shockwave through Britain’s political class.
“Consequences are significant unless Theresa May can persuade her parliamentary colleagues that this is Bad Cop President Trump going into their meetings and Good Cop President Trump will emerge afterwards,” said Matthew Doyle, who was a political adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. “If Trump sticks to the line that the U.K. hasn’t differentiated itself enough from the E.U. to make a trade deal possible, that will embolden the hard Brexiters.”
The views Trump expressed in the interview reflect the line of argument made by May’s critics within her conservative party. Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who could challenge May for her job, resigned from her Cabinet earlier this week over her Brexit plan, which would keep the U.K. in line with certain E.U. standards on the trade of goods.
In the interview, Trump insisted that he would have negotiated the deal differently than May, and he said that he had provided the prime minister his “views on what she should do and how she should negotiate.”
“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 said.
His comments didn’t occur in a vacuum.
The last chief of his 2016 presidential campaign, Steve Bannon, is acting as a surrogate on British television and has set up what associates call a “war room” at a London hotel, where nationalist conservatives are plotting strategy.
Trump and May plan to hold a press conference after their meeting. And, later in the day, Trump is scheduled to visit Windsor Castle, where he will meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
Article Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/hours-after-bashing-british-leader-may-trump-praises-her-n891131?cid=public-rss_20180713