Donald Trump has heaped praise on “incredible” Theresa May and hailed UK-US relations as the “highest level of special” hours after incendiary comments criticising her premiership.
After intensive talks at Chequers in the wake of an interview in which he said the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans would kill off a trade deal with America, the US president told Mrs May “whatever you do is OK with me” but urged her to “make sure we can trade together”.
Protesters gathered in central London to denounce the visit for stoking “division along fault lines of fear and hatred”.
But well away from the noisy demonstrations, Mr Trump and Mrs May took questions from reporters.
The president said Mrs May “can’t walk away” from exit talks with the European Union, though suggested she could use other methods to secure a good deal.
Speaking in the grounds of the PM’s official country residence, Mr Trump said he had given her a suggestion about how to come out on top in the talks but “she found it maybe too brutal”.
But he praised Mrs May as a “very tough negotiator” and described her as an “incredible woman” who is “doing a fantastic job”.
The US president left Mrs May badly wounded when he criticised her negotiating style, lavished praise on Boris Johnson and attacked her Brexit plan in an interview with The Sun.
He apologised to the PM for the story and said the newspaper left out the good things he had said about her, adding “it’s called fake news”.
Mr Trump said: “She’s a very smart, very tough, very capable person and I would much rather have her as my friend than my enemy, that I can tell you.”