President Trump on Tuesday, in a press conference with outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, ripped into his British left-wing critics, saying that the anti-Trump politicians are a “negative force” — and confirmed that he had snubbed the leader of the opposition Labour Party when he sought a sit-down. “I don’t know Jeremy Corbyn, never met him, never spoke to him, he wanted to meet today or tomorrow and I decided I would not do that,” Trump told reporters at the London press conference.
Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party and a veteran left-wing activist, was attending an anti-Trump protest as the press conference was ongoing. Trump also took another shot at longtime foe and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had also opposed Trump’s visit to Britain.
“I don’t think he should be criticizing a representative of the United States that can do so much good for the United Kingdom,” Trump said. “He’s a negative force, not a positive force.”
Of the mayor, Trump said: “He’s done a poor job, crime is up, a lot of problems.” May was similarly critical of the left-wing critics, and noted the important of the special relationship between the two countries: “That is a relationship that we should cherish, that we should build on and should be proud of.” The press conference comes amid a three-day state visit for Trump, which has included a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and a state dinner at Buckingham Palace. He will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, before traveling to France to take part in celebrations there. But while the visit has included a fair amount of pomp and circumstance, it has not stopped Trump from bringing his own brand of bare-knuckle politics to Blighty — with him calling Khan a “stone cold loser” on Monday.
“Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, [Bill] de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job — only half his height,” he said. Trump has also brushed aside diplomatic norms in weighing in on the race to succeed May as prime minister. May will step down from Number 10 on Friday and a leadership contest will begin days later.
Britain was due to leave the bloc in March, but that has been delayed until Oct. 31 after Parliament rejected three times the withdrawal agreement May thrashed out with European leaders last year. Trump has thrown most of his backing behind former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a hardline Brexiteer born in New York who has warmed to Trump in recent years.
“I actually have studied it very hard. I know the different players,” Trump said in an interview with The Sun on Saturday. “But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent.”
Trump told the British outlet that he also likes current Foreign Secretary and leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt. The Daily Telegraph reported that Johnson turned down a one-on-one meeting with the president because it clashed with a leadership debate, but that the two will speak by phone. Beyond the race to succeed May, Trump has also given his support to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, whom he praised for finishing first in the recent European Parliament elections.
“Nigel’s had a big victory, he picked up 32 percent of the vote starting from nothing, and I think they’re big powers over there — I think they’ve done a good job,” Trump said last week.
The American president’s visit comes at a critical time for the U.K. Should Brexit go ahead, a U.S.-U.K. trade relationship will be key to Britain’s post-Brexit success. Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for such a deal on Monday said a deal was possible “once U.K. gets rid of the shackles.” But Trump will also face a significant protest in the capital on Tuesday, where left-wing activists and politicians are due to march in protest of the visit — similar to a large protest that took place during Trump’s working visit to the country last year.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who refused an invitation to Monday’s banquet, is expected to speak at the rally.