A souvenir depicting American President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS/MAX ROSSI
A souvenir depicting American President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 5 2018. Picture: REUTERS/MAX ROSSI

Washington/London — US President Donald Trump hasn’t even arrived in Europe, but he’s already making life difficult for Prime Minister Theresa May. He said the UK was in "somewhat turmoil" and thinks meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin — her geopolitical enemy — will be the easiest part of his trip.

To make things more uncomfortable for her, the US president had very warm words about Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary who resigned on Monday over opposition to May’s plans to leave the EU. He was noticeably less effusive about May.

"Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine," he told reporters as he prepared to fly in for a Nato summit, followed by a trip to the UK. "He’s been very, very nice to me. Very supportive. And maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him."

Asked about May’s troubles and her chances of staying in power, he wasn’t very reassuring: "Well that’s up to the people. I get along with her very well. Have [a] very good relationship. That’s certainly up to the people — not up to me."

It would seem Trump is most looking forward to his encounter with the Russian president on July 16, rather than his one-day tour in the UK: "Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think. Who would think. But the UK certainly has a — they have a lot of things going on."

May’s relationship with Putin is frosty — the UK believes the Kremlin was behind the order to poison former spy Sergei Skripal in western England with a nerve agent — and the one with Trump could be better. He’s angered Britons by re-tweeting propaganda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group and criticising London’s response to terror attacks.

Faced with widespread calls to cancel the entire trip, the UK has downgraded his visit, meaning most of it can be outside the capital.

Bloomberg

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