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Trump: Brexit plan 'will probably kill' US trade deal

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Donald Trump has said the UK will “probably not” get a trade deal with the US, if the prime minister’s Brexit plan goes ahead.

He told The Sun the PM’s plan would “probably kill the deal” as it would mean the US “would be dealing with the European Union” instead of with the UK.

Downing Street has not yet reacted to Mr Trump’s remarks.

Theresa May has been making the case for a US free trade deal with Mr Trump, on his first UK visit as president.

She said Brexit was an “opportunity” to create growth in the UK and US.

Mr Trump also said that former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – who disagrees with the PM on Brexit and resigned this week – would make a “great prime minister”, adding “I think he’s got what it takes”.

In his interview, he renewed his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan over last year’s terror attacks in the capital, saying he had done “a terrible job”.

The president and his wife were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire on Thursday evening.

They were at a black-tie dinner with Mrs May as news broke of his interview with the newspaper, which said it was conducted while he was in Brussels.

After it was published, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president “likes and respects Prime Minister May very much”, adding that he had “never said anything bad about her”.

Mr Trump – who has been a long-time supporter of Brexit – told The Sun newspaper that the UK’s blueprint for its post-Brexit relations with the EU was “a much different deal than the people voted on”.

He said the Brexit proposals Mrs May and her cabinet thrashed out at the PM’s country house Chequers last week “would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”

“We have enough difficulty with the European Union,” he said, saying the US was “cracking down” on the EU because “they have not treated the United States fairly on trading”.

‘I told May how to do it’

He also said he had told Mrs May how to do a Brexit deal, but: “She didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.”

“I told her how to do it. That will be up to her to say. She wanted to go a different route,” he said.

Tom Newton Dunn, the Sun journalist who interviewed Mr Trump, said the US president seemed “sensitive” and knew about the “Trump baby” inflatable.

“He’s really quite stung by the criticism he’s been getting,” said Mr Newton Dunn. “He knew all about the baby blimp. I think it hurt him.”

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The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said Mr Trump’s interview had “driven a bulldozer” through Mrs May’s claim that the UK would be able to get decent trade deals with the wider world, while sticking to the EU rules.

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said things had “moved on” since Mr Trump’s interview – which was carried out before he arrived in the UK – and it was “very early days for the detailed negotiations of any trade deal”.

He said the mood at Thursday night’s Blenheim Palace dinner was “fantastically positive and it did indeed focus a lot on trade”.

The government does not see Mr Trump’s behaviour as “rude”, Sir Alan said, adding: “Donald Trump is a controversialist. That’s his style.”

Responding to Mr Trump’s criticism of his response to terrorism, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was “interesting” that the US president “is not criticising the mayors of other cities” which have also experienced terror attacks.

He defended his decision to allow the giant Trump baby inflatable to fly over London, saying: “The idea that we limit the right to protest because it might cause offence to a foreign leader is a slippery slope”.

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Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the PM had done “everything she could to be nice to him and he has slagged her off in the press”.

“This is not the way to behave and then what does she do, she holds his hand again,” she said, adding: “She should be standing up to him.”

Mr Trump’s comments came on the same day the UK government published its proposal for its long-term relationship with the EU.

The plan is aimed at ensuring trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK.

But leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and David Davis resigned from the cabinet days after ministers reached agreement on the plan at Chequers a week ago. Mrs May said the plan “absolutely delivers on the Brexit we voted for”.

At Thursday’s dinner, Mrs May said that more than one million Americans work for UK-owned firms, telling Mr Trump there was an unprecedented opportunity for a trade deal which creates jobs and growth in the UK and US.

As Mr Trump arrived in the UK, protesters gathered outside the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, London, and an estimated 1,000 of them demonstrated near Blenheim Palace itself, the birthplace of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

On Friday, Mrs May and Mr Trump are due to watch a joint counter-terrorism exercise by British and US special forces at a military base.

The pair will then travel to Chequers – the PM’s country residence in Buckinghamshire – for talks with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Extra security is in place to police protests planned for the second day of Mr Trump’s visit.

The president and first lady will travel to Windsor on Friday afternoon to meet the Queen, before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at Mr Trump’s Turnberry golf resort. This part of the visit is being considered private.

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