U.S. President Donald Trump directly criticized UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, saying her proposals had probably killed off hope of a U.S. trade deal and that she had failed to take his advice on how to negotiate with the European Union.
In an interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper published just hours before he was due to have lunch with May and tea with Queen Elizabeth, Trump chided the “very unfortunate” results of May’s Brexit negotiation.
“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 Sun in an interview published on Friday.
“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.”
After a tumultuous week for May, when her Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned in protest at her Brexit plans, Trump heaped praise on Johnson, saying he “would be a great Prime Minister.”
Such harsh public criticism by a sitting U.S. president of a British prime minister while on a visit to the United Kingdom publicly undermines May in her party, her country and abroad.
When asked about Trump’s comments, May’s spokesman said she was looking forward to sitting down with Trump to talk him through the negotiating stance.
As Britain prepares to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, supporters of Brexit have made much of the so-called special relationship with the United States and the benefits of forging closer trade ties with the world’s biggest economy.