Trump's 2nd day starts with furore over attack on May's Brexit plan
President later backtracks on interview remarks, calling Sun story 'fake news'
US President Donald Trump started the second day of his tour to the UK amid the usual controversy after he attacked Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans, suggesting they would sink any future free trade deal with the US.
In a newspaper interview Trump had queried whether May's plans respected the result of the 2016 referendum to leave the EU and also praised former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned in protest at the blueprint for a "soft" Brexit.
However, at a news conference later on Friday after a meeting with May at her weekend retreat of Chequers, Trump said the interview, in Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper had left out favourable comments towards her, calling it "fake news".
“I didn’t criticise the prime minister. I’ve got a lot of respect for the prime minister,” Trump said.
“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. If they do that, then their trade deal with the US will probably not be made,” Trump said in the newspaper interview.
“We have enough difficulty with the European Union. We are cracking down right now on the European Union because they have not treated the United States fairly on trading.”
“I would have done it (Brexit talks) 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.”
“The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on. It was not the deal that was in the referendum. I have just been hearing this over the last three days. I know they have had a lot of resignations. So a lot of people don’t like it.”
He called Johnson, whom he has rarely met “a very talented guy”, but denied he was favouring the ambitious backbencher over May.
“I am not pitting one against the other. I am just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
Trump also denied that May’s Brexit plan would scupper any hopes of a US trade deal.
“I don’t know what you’re going to do, but whatever you do is OK with us. Just make sure you can trade with us, that’s all that matters,” he said to May.
Protestors gathered across the country on Friday. The most colourful event being the launch of the Trump 'baby blimp' over Westminster depicting the controversial president as an orange-skinned infant wearing a nappy and carrying a mobile phone.
Trump has been kept away from the public and will spend most of his time outside London, or any other major city for that matter.
There will be rallies in Glasgow and Manchester as well as a women’s march in London and the main Stop Trump protest, which will end in Trafalgar Square.