Ahead of the press conference at the country retreat on Friday, the U.S. president sought to comprehensively undermine May’s government with a stunning rebuke of her approach to Brexit negotiations.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper published late Thursday, Trump said May had ignored his advice on Brexit by pursuing a softened approach to talks with the EU. He also warned that such a move would “probably kill” off any chance of May getting a free trade deal with the world’s largest economy.
It was seen as an astonishing political attack on Britain’s leader, and one which could aggravate her increasingly fragile position in government amid torturous negotiations with the rest of the bloc.
“I didn’t criticize the prime minister,” Trump said Friday, quickly interjecting before May could respond to a question about the U.S. president’s comments about her less than 24 hours earlier.
“I have a lot of respect for the prime minster and unfortunately there was a story that was done which was generally fine but it didn’t put in what I said about the prime minister and I said tremendous things … We record when we deal with reporters. It’s called fake news,” he added.