Donald Trump Keeps Breaking U.K. Political Conventions and Some Local Papers Are Lapping It Up

President Donald Trump is dominating British headlines as he arrives in the country for an already controversial three-day state visit.

As thousands of protesters prepare a rude welcome for the commander-in-chief, Trump is doing little to endear himself with his British hosts. In interviews with two major U.K. newspapers published this weekend, Trump broke multiple diplomatic conventions and set an already divided British nation on edge.

The president's visit comes at a tricky time for the British government. Lame duck Prime Minister Theresa May has just days left in office having been utterly defeated by the country's Brexit fiasco, for which there is still no clear solution. As May sees our her final week, the ruling Conservative Party—whose ability to command the British Parliament is far from certain—has now descended into a leadership battle.

And now Trump—arguably one of the most destabilizing forces in world politics—is being thrown into the mix. His interviews this weekend carried pride of place on front pages and websites across the country, though his comments have won him little love among Britons and prompted allegations of undue meddling in domestic politics.

The president waded headlong into domestic politics, attacking the Labour Party's left-wing leader, suggesting the government had botched Brexit negotiations and opining on who the next prime minister should be.

Speaking with The Sun, Trump suggested that he was "really loved in the U.K.," despite last year's mass protests, this year's planned repeat and opinion polls showing that the majority of Britons dislike the president.

Much was made of the president's interference in the Conservative leadership contest and ongoing Brexit strife. Trump has a good relationship with former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is the favorite to succeed May as the next prime minister.

Though Johnson was openly critical of Trump while London mayor, the president described the divisive MP as "a very good guy, a very talented person." Trump also said he thought Johnson "would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent."

"I like him. I have always liked him," Trump continued. "He has been very positive about me and our country," he added, ignoring or unaware of past comments in which Johnson joked he would avoid visiting parts of New York over "the real risk of meeting Donald Trump."

On Brexit, Trump told The Sunday Times that the U.K. should take a harder line with the European Union, just as he did during his working visit last summer.

"If they don't get what they want, I would walk away," he said, touting the kind of "no-deal Brexit" supported by those on the extreme right-wing of British politics and dreaded by economists. "Yes, I would walk away. If you don't get the deal you want, if you don't get a fair deal, then you walk away," the president continued.

Trump, who takes great pride in his self-declared ability to make good business deals, said the U.K. should refuse to pay the so-called divorce bill the with EU, which would cover the country's $50 billion in financial contributions to the bloc agreed before the 2016 referendum.

"If I were them, I wouldn't pay $50 billion," he said. "That is a big number. I wouldn't pay $50 billion. That is me. I would not pay—that is a tremendous number."

Trump also suggested that his friend Nigel Farage—the divisive leader of the right-wing Brexit Party, which was the biggest victor in the U.K.'s European Parliament elections last month—should be involved in negotiations with the EU.

He made the suggestion despite the fact that Farage's party holds no seats in the House of Commons and even though the bloc's leaders have said they will not consider any further discussions on the nature of the U.K.'s departure.

The president even managed to attack Meghan Markle, the first American to become a member of the royal family for generations. During the 2016 presidential campaign before she became involved with Prince Harry, Markle described Trump as "misogynistic" and "divisive."

Asked about Markle's remarks, Trump told The Sun, "I didn't know that. What can I say? I didn't know that she was nasty." Trump and his family will be received by several members of the Royal Family during his visit including Prince Harry, but he will not be joined by Markle.

Trump later denied calling Markle nasty, despite video evidence of him doing so. This is not the first time the president has denied making comments that were caught on tape.

Donald Trump, UK, state visit, newspapers
President Donald Trump talks to the media before he departs the White House on June 2, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Getty/Tasos Katopodis
Donald Trump Keeps Breaking U.K. Political Conventions and Some Local Papers Are Lapping It Up | Politics