Latest: Trump backtracks on earlier criticism, calls May an ‘incredible woman’

Latest: Trump backtracks on earlier criticism, calls May an ‘incredible woman’

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Latest – 3.45pm: 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 UK 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”, including a Mayo man selling Trump toilet paper. 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. Protesters gathered in central London to denounce the visit for stoking “division along fault lines of fear and hatred”, including a Mayo man selling Trump toilet paper.

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.

Donald Trump and Theresa May hold a joint press conference at Chequers in Buckinghamshire

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.”

Update 3.30pm:

Protesters gather ahead of Trump’s meeting with Queen in Windsor Anti-Donald Trump protesters have sympathised with the Queen for having to host the US president for tea at Windsor Castle. While London had the Trump blimp, Windsor saw demonstrators holding a sea of colourful placards with one saying: “Beware Ma’am He’s a Sociopath”.

Around a hundred protesters gathered close to the walls of Windsor Castle hoping to catch a glimpse of the president when he arrives later and make their feelings known. Jenni Collins, 36, said: “It’s important to show up and show that we’re upset we’re engaging with Trump, and have put him on this level of pomp and ceremony.

“I especially feel for the poor old Queen having to have him to tea.”

Holding a homemade placard which said “Equality Diversity No Trump For Tea!” she added:

“It’s the level of lies and distortion he puts out of his mouth and is picked up and taken as truth I find most disturbing, and obviously his stance against diversity, equality, racism and immigration.”

The police presence within Windsor has grown steadily through the day with officers wearing high visibility jackets stood in prominent positions and armed police patrolling the streets. Earlier a police boat was spotted patrolling the nearby River Thames while the banks of the waterway opposite the castle was searched.

Beverley Williams, 40, said about Trump: “He’s a dangerous character and I think it’s important we show we’re not comfortable with the way he is – he’s got some dangerous views.”

She also had a royal-themed placard which read “Off With His Head”, the 40-year-old added: “I think it would have been a very bold move not to get him over here, because we rely on the US for trade.

“But I’m glad it’s not a full state visit because he doesn’t deserve that level of care, I thought Blenheim Place was a bit over the top, I also feel sorry for the Queen because she’s got to meet him.”

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