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Trump says it is up to the people whether Theresa May stays as PM

Setting off for his visit to Europe, the US president described Britain as being in ‘a situation with turmoil’.

Donald Trump has said that the UK is in “turmoil” and it is “up to the people” whether or not Theresa May remains Prime Minister.

And Mr Trump suggested he may have an easier time talking to Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki next week than with Mrs May during his visit to Britain beginning on Thursday.

Speaking as he prepared to depart for a European trip in which he will meet the Prime Minister at the Nato summit in Brussels before his first visit to the UK as US president, Mr Trump insisted he got along with Mrs May “very well”.

But he suggested that he might take time during his UK visit to speak with former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who he described as “a friend of mine”.

Answering questions from reporters on the lawn of the White House as he and his wife Melania prepared to board the Marine One presidential helicopter, Mr Trump said that the UK “certainly has a lot of things going on”.

“It’s going to be an interesting time in the UK and an interesting time at Nato,” he said. “We will work it out and all countries will be happy.

“So I have Nato, I have the UK – which is in somewhat turmoil.  And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of all.”

Asked whether Mrs May should be replaced as Prime Minister, the US president replied: “Well that’s up to the people. I get along with her very well, I have a very good relationship. That’s certainly up to the people, not up to me.”

Mr Trump said he had not spoken with Mrs May, adding: “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me, very supportive. Maybe I’ll speak to him when I get over there.

“I like Boris Johnson, I’ve always liked him.”

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First lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Asked about the remarks, Mrs May’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is looking forward to showing the President the UK and is confident that he will leave with a very positive impression.”

It was “a positive thing for the UK” if Mr Trump had a good relationship with Mr Johnson, whose successor Jeremy Hunt was looking forward to building equally good relations with his US counterparts, the spokesman said.

The spokesman played down the suggestion that Mr Trump would find it easier to talk to President Putin than the PM, saying that it appeared the remark was intended to be “humorous”.

Mr Trump repeated his demands for the EU to lower barriers to US imports and for America’s Nato allies to pay more towards their own defence.

“We do have a lot of allies, but we can’t be taken advantage of,” he said. “We are being taken advantage of by the EU.

“We lost 151 billion (US) dollars last year on trade and on top of that, we spend at least 70% to Nato and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us.

“So we will see what happens, we have a long, beautiful week.”

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