How London Is Reacting To President Trump's Visit

Jul 12, 2018
Originally published on July 12, 2018 5:59 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Just hours after President Trump arrived here in the U.K. and sat down for a black-tie dinner with Prime Minister Theresa May, a British tabloid published a bombshell of an interview conducted with Trump while he was still in Brussels. The interview is with The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch. In it, Trump criticizes May. He accuses her of wrecking Brexit, and he says a trade deal with the U.S. is now probably off the table. The Sun posted audio of some of the interview's highlights.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, if they do a deal like that, it will most likely - because we'll be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal with - if they do that, their trade deal with the U.S. is - will probably not be made.

KELLY: Trump goes on after that, saying he instructed the prime minister on how to do the Brexit deal, but she didn't listen to him. Now, keep in mind, these two are supposed to meet tomorrow with May pitching a free trade deal to Trump. And May is not his only target in this interview with The Sun's Tom Newton Dunn. Trump also goes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: You have a mayor who's done a terrible job at London. He's done a terrible job. And...

TOM NEWTON DUNN: Why, if you don't mind me asking?

TRUMP: Take a look at the terrorism that's taking place. Look at what's going on in London. I think he's done a terrible job.

KELLY: This isn't the first time Trump has shot insults at Khan. And Khan has shot back in the past. Well, we're scheduled to speak with the London mayor tomorrow, and we will bring you his reaction. Meanwhile - all kinds of fallout from this interview with The Sun.

And as it happens, we stopped by the newsroom of The Sun earlier today for a chat with the paper's editor. His name is Tony Gallagher. And from where he sits, Trump is a welcome visitor to Britain, and he approves of Trump's performance this morning at NATO.

TONY GALLAGHER: The readers have been pretty supportive when it comes to letters. There's been a lot of noise about protests, but the letters we've seen have been pretty supportive of him, the idea of the president coming.

KELLY: I saw the story in The Sun today about - that the newspapers were all getting in support of...

GALLAGHER: Well, our leader line - I mean, our leader line...

KELLY: ...Of his visit.

GALLAGHER: ...Has been very supportive of what he's said since he got to Europe, which is that Europe is having a free ride on defense or most European countries having a free ride on defense. So he's talking a language that is supported in the U.K. where we do spend 2 percent. And we agree with that wholeheartedly.

KELLY: And you're hearing the same from your readers because a lot of people we've been out interviewing are saying, oh, my gosh, he went in, and it was like he threw a grenade at the NATO summit, tried to trash it.

GALLAGHER: No, I mean, that's not what we pick up. And actually, from a newspaper point of view, it seems to me that he provides a very good copy in that he's very plainspoken. And he's very direct as opposed to the politician speak that you get from almost everybody else. You have no doubt what he says and he means when he speaks.

KELLY: As a newspaper man, what do you make of his relentless attacks on the media, fake news and all that?

GALLAGHER: Well, nobody's comfortable when they see the media under assault. I think it's fair to say that viewed from a U.K. perspective, he doesn't get a massively fair press. The narrative around him in the U.K. is too often driven by what U.K. broadcasters see and read in the United States. I think as...

KELLY: Do you think he gets a fair shake in the American press?

GALLAGHER: I don't observe the American press closely enough to be able to give you an accurate summary of that. But I can say with certainty that there's been not much attempt to understand why it is that he was elected in the United States. You know, the media class here is still aghast that he's been elected in the same way that a lot of the media class is still aghast that Britain voted for Brexit.

KELLY: Is there a plan for hard Brexit, meaning a clean and decisive break? And if so, where is it?

GALLAGHER: I think you'd have to ask, you know, Theresa May, where is that plan? There doesn't appear to be one, but...

KELLY: But you're aware of the criticism that people who supported Brexit promised the world and that in fact now that reality is pushing up against a deadline...

GALLAGHER: Well, unfortunately...

KELLY: ...There's no way to do it.

GALLAGHER: Unfortunately or fortunately as the case may be, we didn't elect a prime minister who was in favor of Brexit. And it could be argued that a politician that felt the Brexit cause more kingly might have planned...

KELLY: Had their heart in it.

GALLAGHER: ...Might have planned more assiduously for no deal in trading under WTO rules. But it is said that - by the political class now that it's too late to plan for crashing out without no deal. But unfortunately we didn't plan for that.

KELLY: That's Tony Gallagher, editor of The Sun, which published a big interview tonight with President Trump in which he criticizes Britain's prime minister and says her Brexit plan will probably kill any chance of a trade deal with the United States. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.