Trump Advice to May: Sue the EU 07/15 12:21
In the midst of a messy political crisis at home over Britain's impending
exit from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May revealed Sunday that
Donald Trump gave her this piece of advice: Sue the EU, don't negotiate.
LONDON (AP) -- In the midst of a messy political crisis at home over
Britain's impending exit from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May
revealed Sunday that Donald Trump gave her this piece of advice: Sue the EU,
A bemused May turned him down. But the exchange was the latest example of
the awkward dance between the U.S. and Britain, with the two leaders attempting
to put on a public show of friendliness despite clear strains over trade, the
EU and their approaches to diplomacy.
Trump told reporters on Friday that he had given May advice about how to
deal with the EU that she found too "brutal." Asked in a BBC interview Sunday
what that was, May responded with an amused expression: "He told me I should
sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them."
With a laugh, she added: "Actually, no. We're going into negotiations with
In the past few days, Trump's first official visit to Britain has been
steered wildly off course by a series of humiliating remarks he has made about
May's leadership --- especially her handling of the tense Brexit negotiations.
In an explosive interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday --- just
as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner --- Trump said the
British leader's approach likely "killed" chances of a free-trade deal with the
United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, "but
she didn't listen to me."
He also praised May's rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign
secretary to protest May's Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a
"great prime minister."
The comments shocked many in Britain --- even May's opponents --- and
couldn't have come at a worse time for the British prime minister, who is
facing a crisis over Brexit from within her own ranks. Her Conservative
government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and
those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain's biggest trading
The U.S. president later apologized and sought to soften the blow, telling
reporters at a joint news conference Friday that May is an "incredible woman"
who is "doing a fantastic job" as prime minister.
Asked to rate U.S.-U.K. relations, Trump called them the "highest level of
special." He added it was up to May how to handle Brexit, as long as the U.S.
"can trade and we don't have any restrictions" on commerce with the United
On Sunday, May seemed to point to Trump's inconsistent advice when she said
that as well as telling her to "sue" the EU, he also suggested not walking away
from the negotiations.
May didn't elaborate, and it wasn't clear what grounds Britain would have to
sue the EU, how it would work or to what purpose.
But Trump has made clear his animosity toward the EU, aggressively
criticizing his European NATO allies for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade
and defense spending. In a CBS interview Saturday, he called the EU a trade
May's government has just published its long-awaited Brexit plans, which
propose to keep Britain and the EU in a free market for goods, with a more
distant relationship for services. That has infuriated fervent Brexit
supporters, who see it as a bad deal. Along with Johnson, the man who had been
leading the Brexit negotiations, David Davis, also quit in protest.
Ahead of a key week of Parliament votes on trade and customs policy, May
warned party rebels on Sunday they should fall into line, saying wrecking her
Brexit blueprint could result in disaster.
"We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don't, we risk ending up with
no Brexit at all," she wrote in an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
She acknowledged that some lawmakers had doubts about her plans to stick to
a "common rule book" with the bloc for goods and agricultural products in
return for free trade, without tariffs or border customs checks, but insisted
she couldn't see a viable alternative.
Her appeal didn't convince prominent Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg,
who accused May of only half-heartedly supporting Brexit. May, he contended,
was "a Remainer who remains a Remainer."