Donald Trump said it was “fake news” that he had nothing nice to say about Prime Minister Theresa May in an exclusive interview with The Sun, published on the newspaper’s front page today.
Trump, who is in the UK on an official visit, spoke out at a joint press conference with May at Chequers this afternoon after he was questioned by BBC Political editor Laura Kuenssberg on his criticism of May in the Sun.
The Sun ran with the front page headline: “May has wrecked Brexit… US deal is off!” following political editor Tom Newton-Dunn’s exclusive chat with Trump shortly before he arrived in the UK yesterday.
Kuenssberg asked: “Mr President, you seem rather to have changed your tune from earlier this week when you said the current Brexit plan would probably kill the possibility of a trade deal with the UK.
“Our countries are meant to have a special relationship but you publicly criticised her policy, and her personally, for not listening to you this week. Is that the behaviour of a friend?”
Trump responded: “I didn’t criticise the Prime Minister I’ve got a lot of respect for the Prime Minister.
“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.
“Fortunately we tend to record stories now so we have it for your enjoyment if you’d like it but we record when we deal with reporters.
“It’s called ‘fake news’ and we solve a lot of problems with the good old reporting instrument.”
He added: ” I think she’s doing a terrific job by the way.”
In the Sun interview, Trump was reported as having criticised May’s handling of Brexit, saying: “I would have done it much differently” and telling the paper that she did not take his advice on negotiations.
He also denied describing May as a “bossy schoolteacher” in a previous interview with the Washington Post, telling the Sun: “That is fake news. I think she is a very nice person. I get along with her very nicely.”
In a surprising turn, Trump was told by May that Newton-Dunn was among journalists attending today’s press conference, where the two leaders took four questions each.
Addressing Newton-Dunn, Trump said: “Did I say nice things about Theresa May?”
After apparently being told his positive comments had been included, Trump added: “If you reported them that’s good – where on the internet?”
Trump later said: “I said very good things about her [May], I didn’t think they put it in – they didn’t put it in the headline, I wish they had put that in the headline.”
Trump also told the media he apologised to May over the Sun article when he saw her this morning, telling her: “I said such good things about you”.
He said she replied: “Don’t worry, it’s only the press.”
A spokesperson for the Sun said: “We stand by our reporting and the quotes we used – including those where the President was positive about the Prime Minister, in both the paper and in our audio – and we’re delighted that the President essentially retracted his original charge against the paper later in the press conference.
“To say the President called us ‘fake news’ with any serious intent is, well… fake news.”
Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay