President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE on Friday said he has no problem with however the United Kingdom decides to leave the European Union, backing away from his explosive criticism of Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Whatever you’re going to do is OK with us,” Trump told May during a joint press conference at the conclusion of his visit to the U.K.
Trump said his only priority is getting a Brexit agreement that will allow the U.S. and the U.K. to hammer out a bilateral trade agreement after Britain leaves the EU next year.
“Just make sure we can trade together. That’s all that matters,” the president said.
Trump spent much of the press conference heaping praise on May, seemingly in an effort to paper over tensions between the two leaders.
"She’s a very smart, very tough, very capable person,” he said. “I would much rather have her as my friend than my enemy, that I can tell you.”
Trump’s comments stood in stark contrast to an interview he gave to the Sun tabloid, in which the president blasted May’s Brexit strategy. The Sun published the interview Thursday night as May hosted Trump during an opulent reception at Blenheim Palace outside Oxford, England.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump told the paper.
The president claimed that May “didn’t listen to me” when he told her not to pursue a “soft” Brexit strategy, something he said “is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.”
Despite those comments, Trump insisted he did not criticize May during the interview.
“I didn’t criticize the prime minister, I have a lot of respect for the prime minister,” the president told reporters.
Trump claimed his remarks to the Sun were not quoted in full and that the tabloid did not include the “tremendous things” he said about May.
“It’s called fake news,” Trump said.
The Sun has published an audio recording of Trump's criticism of May that backed up its account of the interview.
The president also stood by many of the comments he made to The Sun, such as his claim immigration is damaging the cultural fabric of Europe and that former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, a May rival, would make a great prime minister.
Updated at 10:04 a.m.