President Donald Trump said he feels “badly” for departing British Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced her resignation Friday.
“I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to Japan. “She’s a good woman. She worked very hard. She’s very strong. She decided to do something that some people were surprised at, some people weren’t. It’s for the good of her country. But I like her very much. In fact, I’ll be seeing her in two weeks.”
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May announced in a emotional speech Friday she would step down after her failed attempt to get Great Britain’s Parliament to ratify her deal to exit the European Union. May said she would stay in office until a new prime minister is in place, meaning she’ll still be in office in a few weeks when Trump makes his first state visit to the U.K.
“I will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold,” May said Friday morning, tearing up. “The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.”
Trump and the British leader have had a rocky relationship throughout her premiership. Trump has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, the process May on Friday admitted defeat in navigating.
“I have done my best to do that,” she told reporters. “I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so.” She later added: “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”
May and Trump have struggled at times to present a united front. During a trip to the U.K. last year, the president ripped May’s progress on delivering a Brexit deal, telling The Sun, a British tabloid, that May did not follow his advice when it came to the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European trade bloc and that that in turn had put a potential U.S.-U.K. trade deal in jeopardy. The interview dropped while Trump was still at a gala thrown by May and he backtracked his comments the next day.
This spring, Trump said during a meeting with Ireland’s prime minister that he was “surprised at how badly” Brexit was going.