Donald Trump told Theresa May to “sue the EU” instead of entering into Brexit negotiations, the Prime Minister has revealed.
The US President made the suggestion – which he himself described as “brutal” – in order to help the UK get a good deal with Brussels.
There had been speculation that Trump had advised May to ask for more than she wanted in the negotiations, or even withhold the so-called ‘divorce payment’ for leverage in the talks.
But speaking on the BBC this morning, May revealed his advice was even more dramatic.
“He told me I should sue the EU,” she said, adding: “Not go into negotiations – sue them. Actually, no, we’re going into negotiations with them.”
Trump revealed he had given May advice on how to conduct the talks with Brussels during an at-times surreal press conference alongside the PM on Friday.
Speaking in the grounds of the Prime Minister’s official country residence of Chequers, the US President said: “I think she found it maybe too brutal - and that’s ok, I can see that - I gave her a suggestion, not advice.
“I could fully understand why she thought it was a little bit tough
“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, but it is not an easy thing.”
While May was dismissive of Trump’s suggestion to launch legal proceedings against Brussels, she did highlight his concerns over ‘no deal’ with Brussels.
She said: “Interestingly, what the President also said at that press conference was ‘don’t walk away, don’t walk away from the negotiations because then you’re stuck’.”
May’s interview on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning came as she fights to keep alive her plan for Brexit in the face of opposition from a number of Tory MPs.
David Davis, Boris Johnson and Steve Baker all resigned from Government last week over the plan, which would see the UK follow a common rulebook with the EU in goods and agri-foods.
They believe that would leave the UK as a ‘rule-taker’ from Brussels, and could thwart future trade deals with countries including the USA.
Davis, who quit as Brexit Secretary, used a Sunday Times article to accuse May of making an “astonishingly dishonest claim” that Brexiteers had not come up with an alternative to her plan.
Baker, who was a junior minister under Davis, claimed the Brexit Department was little more than a “Potemkin structure to [distract from] what the Cabinet Office Europe unit was doing for the Prime Minister.”
May hit back at those claims, telling Marr: “Let me very clear that no department was cut out of these discussions. Discussions have been taking place for some considerable time…We have been discussing this option.”
She added: “David Davis was discussing with Michel Barnier. Michel Barnier had made it clear to him the unnegotiability of the position that we had, so we had a choice.
“We could have said we’ll stick where we are and see what happens and risk actually ending up with a chaotic leaving, which I don’t think is in people’s interest.
“Or we could have said: ‘OK let’s look at moving forward, let’s look at an alternative proposal,’ which we have put forward.”