Trump says relations with May 'very strong' after bombshell interview

U.S. President Donald Trump says a U.K. tabloid published "fake news" regarding his critical comments of the U.K. prime minister's handling of Brexit. Trump responded as he and Theresa May held a joint news conference at her official country estate.

Large anti-Trump protest in London as U.S. president meets Queen in Windsor

'I just think it's changing the culture, I think it's a very negative thing for Europe,' Trump tells U.K. news conference 2:05

U.S. President Donald Trump says a U.K. tabloid published "fake news" when it "left things out" and only reported his critical comments of the U.K. prime minister's handling of Brexit.

Trump responded to the Sun article, published on Thursday, as he and Theresa May held a joint news conference, following talks at her official country residence in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire County, England, on Friday.

The pair spoke to reporters a day after Trump arrived in the U.K. for a four-day visit, coming off a contentious NATO gathering in Brussels.

Earlier, he spoke of having a "very, very strong" working relationship with May, and she said the U.S. is Britain's "longest-standing and deepest security and defence partner." She also credited Trump for pushing NATO partners to increase defence spending.

Trump had told the Sun that May's Brexit blueprint would "probably kill" any bilateral trade deal with the U.S. At the news conference, he addressed the prime minister and said, "Whatever you do is OK with us ... just make sure we can trade together."

Trump also told the paper he felt "unwelcome" in London after learning of a huge protest that went ahead on Friday, and featured a giant balloon flying over Parliament that depicts him as an angry baby in a diaper.

"I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London," he said in the interview.

The president called out the Sun for supposedly not printing positive things he said about May during an earlier interview. The Sun said it wasn't true.

Despite the controversy over the interview — and large-scale protest against the U.S. leader — the visit continued Friday without incident. Trump and May held a joint news conference, and the president and his wife Melania later travelled to Windsor Castle for a social visit with the Queen.

A military band honoured Trump with a royal salute before playing the U.S. national anthem. Trump and the Queen are set to inspect the assembled honour guard before viewing a military "march past."

The Trumps and the Queen were scheduled to spend about 30 minutes getting acquainted over tea inside the castle but the visit stretched past 45 minutes.

Trump has talked at length about the Royal Family over the years.

Queen Elizabeth, U.S. President Donald Trump and Melania Trump walk from the Quadrangle after inspecting an honour guard at Windsor Castle. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

He told The Sun newspaper before his arrival that he was looking forward to the visit, complimenting the Queen and marvelling at the lack of controversy associated with her over the years.

"She is a tremendous woman. I really look forward to meeting her. I think she represents her country so well," he said.

"If you think of it, for so many years she has represented her country, she has really never made a mistake. You don't see, like, anything embarrassing. She is just an incredible woman."

He also talked about how his mother, who was born in Scotland, loved the Royal Family and all things pomp and pageantry.

The Trumps arrive in Glasgow, Scotland, where they will spend the weekend ahead of the president's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

"My mother loved the Queen. Any time the Queen was on television, my mother wanted to watch it," said Trump.

After his visit with the Queen, he travelled to Scotland, where he will spend the weekend at one of his private golf courses. Trump owns two championship-level golf courses in Scotland, including the seaside Trump Turnberry on Scotland's west coast.

He last visited Scotland in 2016, where he held a press conference commending the Brexit vote and took reporters on a tour by golf cart.

Aides say Trump will be spending the weekend preparing for his Monday summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin, another high-stakes event that comes after the U.K. visit and a tense NATO summit

Controversial interview

Trump, in the interview given before he left Brussels for the U.K., accused May of ruining what her country stands to gain from the Brexit vote to leave the European Union. He said her former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, would make an "excellent" prime minister, speaking just days after Johnson resigned in protest over May's Brexit plans.

Trump, who has compared his own election to the June 2016 referendum in which a majority of British voters supported leaving the EU, complained, "The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on."

He also told the tabloid that he had shared advice with May during Britain's negotiations with the EU and she ignored it.

Details from Trump's interview with the paper became public as Trump was attending a black-tie dinner with May to welcome him to Britain with pomp and pageantry.

As for Johnson, Trump said: "I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he's got what it takes. I think he is a great representative for your country."

Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference following their meeting at the U.K. leader's official country estate, Chequers, on Friday in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire County, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement after the tabloid interview was published, saying Trump "likes and respects Prime Minister May very much."

"As he said in his interview with the Sun, she 'is a very good person' and he 'never said anything bad about her.' He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person," Sanders wrote.

Protests abound 

On Thursday night, hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the U.S. ambassador's residence where Trump was staying on the outskirts of London. On Friday, tens of thousands of people gathered in London for a series of demonstrations against the president's visit. Marchers gathered near BBC headquarters in central London before walking through the centre of the city to Parliament — where, earlier, the baby blimp hovered overhead.

Many protesters used humour to convey their opposition. One sign read, "Trump wears poorly tailored suits," while another proclaimed, "Overcomb Brexit." One man was selling rolls of "Trump toilet paper" emblazoned with a picture of the president. 

In his interview with the Sun, Trump blamed the hostility in part on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who gave protesters permission to fly the six-metre-tall Trump balloon.

Trump also blamed recent terrorist attacks in the city on Khan, who is a Muslim. The president claimed Europe is "losing its culture" because of immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

"Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a sham," he said. "I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it's never going to be what it was and I don't mean that in a positive way."

During Friday's news conference, Trump and May expressed differing views on the benefits of immigration to Europe.

Trump said immigration has been "very bad" for Europe and reiterated that it's is changing the culture of the continent. May said "immigration has, overall, been good" for the U.K., contributing to its society and economy, but added that border controls were important.

CBC's Margaret Evans takes a look back at some of Trump's more contentious statements on the U.K.

With files from CBC News

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