The ups and downs

JULY 12

Hours before US President Donald Trump was due to touch down in Britain for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, he lobs a verbal hand grenade at his host over her Brexit blueprint. "The people voted to break it up, so I would imagine that is what they would do, but maybe they are taking a different route - I don't know if that is what they voted for," he said. Mrs May hosts Mr Trump and business leaders at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, and tells him that the United States is "not just the closest of allies, but the dearest of friends".

JULY 13

In an interview with The Sun published hours before the two leaders held talks, Mr Trump castigates Mrs May for ignoring his advice by opting for a soft Brexit strategy. "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."

He adds that Mr Boris Johnson, one of Mrs May's primary rivals within the Conservative Party, would "make a great prime minister".

President Trump's response:

In a joint press conference after his meeting with Mrs May, Mr Trump says: "I didn't criticise the Prime Minister (in The Sun interview), I have a lot of respect for the Prime Minister.

"She is a very smart, very tough, very capable person, and I would much rather have her as my friend than my enemy."

PM May's response:

Mrs May accentuates the positive, saying that "no two countries do more together than ours to keep their people safe and prosperous", and gives no hint of anger about the interview that seriously undermined her.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline 'The ups and downs'. Print Edition | Subscribe