July 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at length Friday with British Prime Minister Theresa May, and despite a frank interview he gave to a tabloid newspaper that renounced her Brexit plan, the two seemed united at a news conference.
In the interview with Britain's The Sun, Trump said a new trade deal with the United States was unlikely because of May's Brexit negotiation tactics.
In the piece, Trump said he advised May on how to handle the exit from the European Union and said he "would have done it much differently."
"I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn't agree, she didn't listen to me. She wanted to go a different route," he told The Sun.
"I think he's got what it takes.
"I have a lot of respect for Boris. He obviously likes me and says very good things about me," he added. "I was very saddened to see he was leaving government, and I hope he goes back in at some point."
Trump's press officer Sarah Sanders issued a statement overnight Thursday to clarify the president's attitude toward May.
"The president likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with The Sun, she is a very good person and he never said anything bad about her," Sanders said. "He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the prime minister here in the U.K."
During the news conference, Trump and May dismissed criticism over The Sun interview.
Trump said he did not criticize May and said the British tabloid did not include all the good things he said about her.
As for her not taking his advice on Brexit negotiations, Trump said it was merely a suggestion.
"I only gave her a suggestion, not advice," Trump said. "She probably thought it was too brutal."
Trump said his statements to The Sun were based on reports he read that indicated free trade likely would not be possible with Britain after it leaves the European Union. He said after their visit, though, he thinks an agreement is reachable.
"Whatever you do is OK with me," Trump told May. "Whatever you're going to do is OK with us, just make sure we can trade with you, that's all that matters."
May said Britain would have "no limit to the possibility of doing trade deals around the world" after Brexit and that trade would be a matter of negotiation.
Trump's visit to Britain followed two days of a NATO summit in Belgium, where he shook up the conference with rhetoric about other members failing to meet fiscal defense requirements and the possibility he could end the United States' 70-year membership in the alliance.
"We have left NATO with more money, more spirit, more unity than even before," Trump said.
He also spoke about how immigration is hurting Britain, to which May said her country has a "proud history of welcoming people with different backgrounds."
"What is important, is to control the borders and determine who comes into our border," she said.
Tom Newton Dunn, who interviewed Trump for the Sun, said the president seemed "sensitive" about the inflatable "Trump baby" being flown over London and its accompanying protests on Friday.
"He's really quite stung by the criticism he's been getting," Dunn said.
On Thursday, Trump had said, "I think they like me a lot in the U.K."
After Trump's meeting with May in Chequers, he and first lady Melania Trump headed to Windsor Castle for tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Prior to the meeting, the president described the queen as "an incredible woman."
"I really look forward to meeting her. I think she represents her country so well," he said, praising her for never making mistakes.
Remarks between the Trumps and Queen Elizabeth II were not made public.
Trump plans to spend the weekend at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland before flying to Helsinki, Finland, for a summit Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump said he plans to ask Putin about Ukraine, Syria and nuclear proliferation. He also said he'll bring up Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
"I'll absolutely bring that up, but it won't be a Perry Mason moment."
When asked about Russia annexing Crimea in 2014, Trump blamed the Obama administration and said Putin "wouldn't have done that if I was president."