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Trump vows 'great' trade deal with UK, abruptly changing tack on May's Brexit plan

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Trump vows 'great' trade deal with UK, abruptly changing tack on May's Brexit plan

By Jeff Mason


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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May poses for a photograph with U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay


WINDSOR CASTLE, England (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday the United States and Britain could secure a "great" post-Brexit trade deal, lavishing praise on Prime Minister Theresa May and contradicting his own withering assessment of her strategy publicised hours earlier.


Fresh from sending NATO into crisis talks and ahead of a summit with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, Trump shocked Britain's political establishment when he criticised May's plans for ties with the European Union after Britain leaves in March.


In a newspaper interview published just hours before holding talks with May, Trump said her Brexit strategy would "kill" any chance of a trade deal with the U.S. and said she had not listened to his advice on how to negotiate with the EU.


But, as the two leaders stood together for a press conference in the garden of May's grand 16th-century official residence Chequers, Trump said the British leader was doing a "fantastic job", added it was up to her how to conduct Brexit, and that a free trade deal was very much on the table.


Relations had never been more special, he said, and any criticism was "fake news".


"Once the Brexit process is concluded and perhaps the UK has left the EU, I don't know what they're going to do but whatever you do is OK with me, that's your decision," Trump said.


"Whatever you do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade together, that's all that matters. The United States looks forward to finalising a great bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries and we will seize it fully," he said.


At the same location a week ago, May finally won agreement for her Brexit plans from her cabinet after two years of internal wrangling, but within days, two senior ministers had quit, departures which Trump said earlier in the week had left Britain in "turmoil".


Some lawmakers in her deeply divided Conservative Party have cast May's "business-friendly" Brexit plan as a betrayal that would leave Britain too close to the EU and warned that she might face a leadership challenge.


May's formal proposals were published on Thursday, but hours later the Sun newspaper published an interview with Trump where he appeared to side with the prime minister's critics.


"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," he told the Sun. "I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn't listen to me."


Asked about that interview, Trump said he had not criticised May, lavishing praise on "a terrific woman", who was smart, tough and capable.


"This incredible woman right here is doing a fantastic job, a great job," he said. "She's a total professional because when I saw her this morning, I said: 'I want to apologise, because I said such good things about you'. She said: 'Don't worry, it's only the press'."




May, likewise, glossed over the comments in the Sun, saying her deal provided a platform for an ambitious free trade deal.


Trump's remarks to the Sun were the most biting any U.S. president has ever made on visit to Britain. However, under the blue skies of the Chequers' garden, he said their relationship was "the highest level of special".


However, while Trump and May exchanged warm words, tens of thousands of protesters marched against the U.S. president through central London, bringing much of the British capital to a standstill. It was one of the more than 100 demonstrations planned across the country during his four-day stay.


"The message we came here to give today is that Trump is not welcome in Britain," said shopkeeper Grish Gregoran, 58, who took the day off to attend. "We wanted to embarrass him and I think we have done that today.


Trump has also frequently angered British politicians and has been involved in social media spats with London's Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan who Trump said had "done a very bad job on terrorism".


Late last year, May herself criticised Trump for retweeting a message by a member of a British far-right group, and the speaker of parliament has said the president would not be welcome to address the chamber.


After leaving Chequers, Trump travelled to Windsor Castle to have tea with Queen Elizabeth. He was heralded by military bands on his arrival at the 92-year-old monarch's home where her grandson Prince Harry married U.S. actress Meghan Markle in May.


He later flew to Scotland where he is staying at his Trump Turnberry golf course. The protests reached him there, when a paraglider bearing the logo of environmental campaign group Greenpeace swooped within some few hundred yards of the president as he stood outside the golf course's hotel, television pictures showed.


He will stay in Scotland until Sunday when he heads to Helsinki for talks with Russia's Putin. Trump said he would bring up the issue of nuclear disarmament with Putin.


However his trip to meet Putin is set to be overshadowed by news that a U.S. federal grand jury has indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers on charges of hacking the computer networks of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.


"We have this stupidity going on, pure stupidity, but it makes it very hard to do something with Russia because, anything you do, it's like: 'Russia, oh he loves Russia'," Trump said at the press conference before news of the indictment.


"I love the United States but I love getting along with Russia and China and other countries."


-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-14
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Just when you thought you have got Trump pegged as to who he reason and thinks, something always comes up to show you how hasty you were, so far he managed to run around in circles and putting everyone and everything around him in a spin, where he will stop and calm down no one knows....

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im begging to think this man Is bi polar..memo to Don..''shave your head '' stop trying to look 21,its very freeing and you can focus on '' Making the USA great again...

Edited by mok199
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guys is a good manipulator with a thick skin for negotiations, not necessary a good businessmen as he claims.

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43 minutes ago, Tug said:

Just vomiting lies trying to coverup the lies what an a hole knifes his host in the guts keeps a 92 year old dear lady waiting 15 minutes in the sun just vile and unamerican on the bright side muller is closing in soon the jig will be up soon clown boy soon

Love it. I think the timing of the Mueller indictments were a little more than coincidental. The screw is turning slowly but surely. His nuts are being squeezed. I predict one bursting before too long. Hallelujah. 

His private audience on Monday with his handler may just do the trick. 

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BANGKOK 19 July 2018 11:00