United States & United Kingdom Great Again Donald Trump & Theresa May

UK USA

Donald Trump tells Theresa May: ‘Brexit is going to be a wonderful thing for your country’ as two leaders hold hands at White House

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he believes Brexit will be a “wonderful thing” for Britain and open the door to new trade deals as the two leaders held hands at the White House.

In a joint press conference at the White House, Mr Trump said: “Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries. “On behalf of our nation, I thank you for joining us here today as a really great honour.”

Mrs May said: “Thank you for inviting me so soon after your inauguration and I’m delighted to be able to congratulate you on what was a stunning election victory.

“And, as you say, the invitation is an indication of the strength and importance of the special relationship that exists between our two countries, a relationship based on the bonds of history, of family, kinship and common interests.

“And in a further sign of the importance of that relationship I have today been able to convey Her Majesty the Queen’s hope that President Trump and the First Lady would pay a state visit to the United Kingdom later this year and I’m delighted that the president has accepted that invitation.”

Mrs May made a point of emphasising that during their talks, Mr Trump had given strong backing to Nato, an alliance that the president has previously called obsolete.

The president was asked if he was considering lifting US sanctions against Russia ahead of an expected Saturday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr Trump was noncommittal, saying “We’ll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that.”

Challenged about his views on torture, Russia, banning Muslims and punishment for abortion by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Trump joked to Mrs May: “This was your choice of a question. There goes that relationship.”

He insisted that he would allow decisions to be made on the use of torture by his defence secretary, James Mattis – who has different views on the issue.