US President Donald Trump directly critiqued British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy, saying her plans for a soft Brexit would likely end hopes of a trade deal with the US and that she had failed to take his advice on how to negotiate with the European Union.
His comments in the Sun newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, a political ally of the president, 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, the paper that 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."
According to sources, May wants to impress Trump and use his three-day visit to the U.K. to push for a trade deal with the U.S. after the U.K. leaves the European Union next year, in a process known as Brexit. Relations with the U.S. are a high priority for the prime minister’s trade policy.
But even before Trump arrived in the U.K. he attacked May’s Brexit plan, said the country was in “somewhat turmoil” and that meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin next week -- her geopolitical enemy -- would be easier than meeting her.
After a tumultuous week for May, with her Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigning in protest at her Brexit plans, Trump heaped praise on Johnson, saying he "would be a great leader and Prime Minister."
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.