In a joint news conference on Tuesday with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, President Donald Trump expressed confidence that Brexit would eventually happen. "I think it will happen," he said, adding: "This is a great, great country, and it wants to have its own identity... I think it deserves a special place."
The news conference came a day after the president and his family met with members Britain's royal family, including the Queen, who hosted a state banquet for him at Buckingham Palace on Monday night.
In response to Trump's remarks, May said it was in Britain's best interest to leave the European Union with a withdrawal deal - rather than abruptly crashing out and falling back on World Trade Organisation rules. She noted, "I seem to remember the President suggested that I sue the European Union, which we didn't do. We went into negotiations, and we came out with a good deal."
Trump said, "I would have sued, but that's okay. I would have sued and settled, maybe, but you never know." But, in contrast to previous times he's criticised her handling of Brexit, he granted that May is "probably a better negotiator than I am".
May opened the news conference with thanks to "Donald" for cooperation with Britain - for expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers in solidarity after a nerve agent attack on British soil; for carrying out airstrikes in Syria following the use of chemical weapons; and for promoting the idea that Nato members should be sharing the security burden. She signalled Iran and the Paris Climate Agreement as notes of difference.
In a line that might refer to Brexit as much as transatlantic relations, she said, "I've always believed that cooperation and compromise are the basis" of relationships.
Trump said the United States was committed to a "phenomenal trade deal" with post-Brexit Britain, suggesting that trade could increase three-fold. He complimented May as a "tremendous professional and a person who loves your country dearly".
Trump predicted an agreement over Huawei and dismissed the thought that intelligence sharing might be suspended or curtailed. As far as a new trade deal with Britain, he said "everything will be in the table," in negotiations, including Britain's National Health Service.
May responded that "the point of making trade deals is both sides negotiate and both sides decide what's in the trade deal". Other British politicians later pushed back on Trump's suggestion that health care would be on the table in future US-Britain trade talks.
When asked about the opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was addressing protesters outside, Trump said that he had declined meeting with Corbyn, whom he described as a "negative" fellow. The Labour Party press team later responded: "Jeremy Corbyn proposed a meeting with Donald Trump during the president's visit. Jeremy is ready to engage with the president on a range of issues, including the climate emergency, threats to peace and the refugee crisis."
One curiosity has been whether Trump allies Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage might show up at some point on the president's trip, though they weren't on the official schedule. Johnson is in the spotlight as a leading contender to be the next prime minister. And Farage's new Brexit Party crushed everyone else in Britain's elections for European Parliament last month.
On Tuesday morning, the Press Association reported that Trump and Johnson had a "friendly and productive" 20-minute phone call but that Johnson had declined meeting in person. On Tuesday afternoon London time, a Reuters photographer got a shot of Farage arriving at the residence of US Ambassador Woody Johnson. Soon after, Farage tweeted: "Good meeting with President Trump - he really believes in Brexit and is loving his trip to London."
Earlier Tuesday, Trump co-hosted a morning round table of American and British corporate executives, alongside May, meant to kick-start discussions for a deal the president is eager to cut.
Trump has talked up a trade pact with a post-Brexit Britain from the start of his presidency, often putting May in a tricky spot, since Britain cannot fully negotiate a deal while still a part of omnibus European Union trade arrangements.
In brief remarks at the beginning of the business meeting on Tuesday, Trump said, "I think we will have a very, very substantial trade deal."
Leaning toward May, Trump said, "I don't exactly know what your timing is but stick around, let's do this deal."
The Trump-May meetings came at an awkward moment. May has been ousted from her post - not by the voters or by the opposition, but by her own Conservative Party, for her failure to deliver Brexit.
May announced her resignation last month. She officially resigns on Friday, and shall be replaced as party leader and prime minister by the end of July.
While policy is mostly taking a back seat to pomp on this trip, the trade deal is Trump's top priority. His delegation, heavy on family members and staff hangers-on, also includes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials focused on a trade package.
The business meeting at St James' Palace was attended by the Duke of York, Chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Also present: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the President's daughter Ivanka Trump.
As Trump sits with the business community, anti-Trump protesters began to mass for a demonstration against the American president.
Some demonstrators have dubbed the day's protest a "Carnival of Resistance".