Donald Trump has warned Theresa May her Brexit plan could “kill” any UK-US trade deal because Britain would remain so closely aligned to the European Union.
The US president said he would have done the Brexit negotiations “much differently” and claimed the Prime Minister did not listen to his advice, in an interview with The Sun.
His highly-controversial remarks came at the end of a day in which he had already waded deeply into the Brexit row over Theresa May’s white paper ahead of his first official visit to Britain as President.
He had used a Thursday morning press conference in Brussels to attack the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and highlight Cabinet divisions.
In a Sun interview released while Mr Trump and First Lady Melania were being entertained by the Prime Minister at Blenheim Palace, the president 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”.
The comments, following on from the morning press conference, will a cause of great concern for Mrs May.
She had used the Blenheim black tie dinner with political and business leaders to press Mr Trump on the benefits of a free trade deal after Brexit.
Addressing the 100-strong group the Prime Minister said there was an “unprecedented” opportunity to do a deal that boosted jobs and growth in both countries.
The Trumps landed in Air Force One at Stansted Airport at lunchtime on Thursday to kick-start a four-day working visit to Britain as protests against his trip began.
Speaking to reporters in Belgium after a fiery Nato Summit, Mr Trump had described the UK as a “hot spot right now with a lot of resignations” and dismissed the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan on the next stage of Brexit.
“I would say Brexit is Brexit,” he told reporters.
“The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route, I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”
He added that it seemed as if the UK was “getting at least partially involved back with the European Union”.
“I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly,” he said.
It comes just days after Mr Trump declined to say whether Mrs May should remain in post, said he had “always liked” Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign secretary over the Chequers agreement, and described the UK as being in “turmoil”.