Donald Trump tries to repair damage with praise for "very tough" Theresa May

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Donald Trump has told Theresa May that "whatever you do is OK with me" on Brexit after damning comments about her EU negotiating strategy appeared in a newspaper interview in the middle of his visit to the UK.

Standing alongside the Prime Minister during a press conference at Chequers, the President said he had a "lot of respect" for Mrs May and said there was “a tremendous opportunity to double, triple, quadruple” trade between the US and the UK.

But he heaped further embarrassment on the Prime Minister by repeating his claim that "Boris Johnson... would be a great prime minister.”

In an interview in Friday’s Sun, Mr Trump said he would have carried out Brexit negotiations "much differently" and claimed the Prime Minister did not listen to his advice.

He said: "If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.

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"If they do that, then their trade deal with the US will probably not be made."

At Chequers, the president insisted he "didn't criticise" and said the relationship between the US and the UK was “the highest level of special”.

On Brexit, he said: “I don't know what you're going to do, but whatever you do, it's OK with me... just as long as we can trade together."

Mr Trump added: "The only thing I ask of Theresa is that we make sure we can trade and we don't have any restrictions because we want to trade with the UK and the UK wants to trade with us.

"We are by far their biggest trading partner and we have just a tremendous opportunity to double, triple, quadruple that.

"So if they go in a slightly different route - and I know they do want independence, it's going to be independence, it's just your definition - if they are going to go in a certain route I just said that I hope you are going to be able to trade with the United States.

"I read reports where that won't be possible, but I believe after speaking with the Prime Minister's people and representatives and trade experts it will absolutely be possible."

The president went on to say Mrs May would do "very well" in the Brexit negotiations and called her a “very tough negotiator”.

“I have been watching her over the last couple of days… she's a very, very smart and determined person.

"I can tell you there are a lot of people that are looking up now that are saying 'Gee whiz, she left a lot of people in her wake'.

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"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."

But in a rambling 50-minute press conference in which he denounced several outlets including the Sun as being “fake news”, Mr Trump’s comments to a less helpful turn when he confirmed he had offered the Prime Minister an unspecified “suggestion” on Brexit.

"I think she found it maybe too brutal because I could see that - I don't know if you remember what I said. I did give her a certain amount... I gave her a suggestion, not advice, I wouldn't want to give her advice, I'd give her a suggestion.

"I can fully understand why she thought it was a little bit tough and maybe someday she will do that - if they don't make the right deal she might very well do what I suggested that she might want to do."

Mr Trump, who frequently referred to the Prime Minister in the third person without naming her, also suggested the Mrs May "can't walk way" from the Brexit negotiations “because if she walks away that means she's stuck”.

"You can't walk away but you can do other things."

Mrs May said the United States is "keen" to do a deal with the UK, and insisted that under her Brexit plans, “there will be no limit to the possibility of us doing trade deals around the rest of the world”.

"We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the rest of the world," she added.

"Lots of people give me advice about dealing with the European Union. My job is actually getting out there and doing it."

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Asked about Mr Johnson, who resigned from the government in protest at the Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiating strategy on Monday, Mr Trump said: "He's been very nice to me. He's been saying very good things about me as president.

"I think he thinks I'm doing a great job. I am doing a great job, I can tell you, just in case you haven't noticed.

"Boris Johnson, I think, would be a great prime minister."