May says US trade deal back on track after Trump’s criticism

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip stand together with US President Donald Trump and first Lady Melania Trump at the entrance to Blenheim Palace July 12, 2018. — Reuters pic
British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip stand together with US President Donald Trump and first Lady Melania Trump at the entrance to Blenheim Palace July 12, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, July 13 — British Prime Minister Theresa May said she and Donald Trump had agreed to complete a trade deal between their countries as soon as the UK leaves the European Union, moving past tensions raised by the US president’s criticism of her Brexit strategy.

“We agreed today that as the UK leaves the EU we will pursue an ambitious US-UK trade deal,” May said today 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 UK, he said. “We want to trade with the UK and the UK wants to trade with us.”

In an interview with the Sun published late yesterday, 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 US 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 criticised 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. — Bloomberg

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