President Donald Trump lashed out at British Prime Minister Theresa May’s “soft Brexit” blueprint upon his arrival in the United Kingdom on Thursday, saying that such a plan could destroy the chance of a trade deal with the United States.
Trump’s interview with British tabloid The Sun was published on the same day he arrived in London, shortly after May revealed plans for a still semi-cozy working relationship between the U.K. and the European Union even after Brexit is finalized.
“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.
“We have enough difficulty with the European Union,” he said. “We are cracking down right now on the European Union because they have not treated the United States fairly on trading. No, if they do that, I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”
May’s plan ― which isn’t going over well with Brexit supporters in the U.K. either ― would be to sign an “Association Agreement” with the EU that involves stronger ties than a traditional free-trade deal. The U.K. would agree to abide by the EU’s rulebook for goods and agricultural products in return for not losing its open customs borders with the union. (It’s not clear what EU leaders think of the idea.)
Trump also lamented in the interview that May had ignored his advice on how to proceed with Brexit, for which the British voted in 2016.
“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” he said.
However, on Friday he said that he and May had a “very strong” relationship.
“The relationship is very, very strong, we really have a very good relationship,” he said, according to the Press Association.
At an appearance before bilateral talks with May, Trump didn’t answer when a reporter asked him about his comments to The Sun.