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Posted at: Jul 14, 2018, 1:53 AM; last updated: Jul 14, 2018, 1:53 AM (IST)

Trump apologises to May, vows UK trade deal post-Brexit

Trump apologises to May, vows UK trade deal post-Brexit
Together against Trump: People take part in an anti-Trump protest in London on Friday. They kicked off demonstrations by floating a 20-foot blimp depicting Trump as a snarling orange baby. Reuters

Chequers, July 13

US President Donald Trump on Friday said he apologised to UK Prime Minister Theresa May over his bombshell interview with a British tabloid, in which he claimed she had ignored his advice on Brexit and praised former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's potential as a possible premier. He too said the US and Britain could secure a “great” post-Brexit trade deal, 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 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. “I said, ‘I want to apologise because I said such good things about you’, And she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press’,” Trump said of their purported conversation.

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 US looks forward to finalising a great bilateral trade agreement with the UK. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries and we will seize it fully.”

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

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