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US News Trump praises Nigel Farage and refuses to apologise for 'nasty' jibe as he leaves US

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Donald Trump has praised Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, talked up the prospect of a Brexit trade deal, rebuked Sadiq Khan and denied making “bad” comments about the Duchess of Sussex as he left the US for his state visit to Britain.

The US president said he expected his three-day visit to be “very important” and “very interesting” as he left the White House on Sunday evening.

Speaking to reporters before boarding the Marine One helicopter, Trump was asked if he planned to meet Johnson during the trip.

“Well, I think I may meet with him. He’s been a friend of mine. He’s been very nice. I have a very good relationship with him,” the president said of the Tory leadership hopeful. He had already praised Johnson on Saturday, saying he would be an excellent leader.

He went on: “I have a very good relationship with Nigel Farage, with many people over there (in the UK) and we’ll see what happens. I may meet with him. They want to meet. We’ll see what happens.”

Accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, the president will arrive in the UK aboard Air Force One on Monday morning having already created a considerable degree of political turbulence with comments on the Tory leadership race, Brexit and the Duchess of Sussex.

Trump has already denied calling the Duchess of Sussex “nasty”, despite audio recordings showing he said “I didn’t know she was nasty” when he was told that she said she would leave the US if he won the 2016 election.

Asked at the White House on Sunday evening if he was willing to apologise to the Royal Family, or to clarify his commentsTrump replied: “No, I made no bad comment. Thank you.”

Ahead of the visit, he had called on Britain to leave the European Union without a deal if Brussels refuses to meet its demands and urged the government to send Farage into the negotiations.

The controversy was further exacerbated on Sunday when the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, suggested the NHS would be on the table in post-Brexit trade talks.

Addressing the prospect of a transatlantic trade deal, Trump said: “(We’re) going to the UK. I think it’ll be very important. It certainly will be very interesting. There’s a lot going on in the UK. And I’m sure it’s going to work out very well for them.

“As you know, they want to do trade with the United States, and I think there’s an opportunity for a very big trade deal at some point in the near future. And we’ll see how that works out.”

The president departed from Joint Base Andrews near Washington DC aboard Air Force One at around 8.45pm local time (1.45am BST).

The Trumps are due to arrive aboard at Stansted Airport on Monday morning before heading to Buckingham Palace for a reception with the Queen, Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Duke of Sussex will also attend a private lunch at the palace – although his wife, who is on maternity leave, will be at home with their four-week-old son, Archie.

Trump’s arrival in the capital is due to be followed by a protest through central London against the visit on Tuesday, with the “Trump baby” blimp made for his visit last year due to put in an appearance.

On Sunday, Khan described the president as “just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” and compared the language he has used to that of the “fascists of the 20th century”.

Asked if he would be willing to meet the London mayor, Trump replied: “No, I don’t think much of him. I think that he’s a - he’s the twin of (New York City mayor Bill) de Blasio, except shorter.”

With Press Association


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