The Sun journalist who interviewed Donald Trump says that he thinks the US president will soften when he meets Theresa May.
In an explosive interview with the paper, Trump slammed her Brexit plans, saying: "If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”
He also laid into London Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying he’d done a “terrible job” on terrorism, and said the Trump Baby protest blimp made him feel “unwelcome”.
“He’s a long term enemy of the EU and sees Britain’s future as closer to America,” said Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of the Sun.
"He has been a fervent Brexiteer decades before the phrase was even invented. He’s on the record about this, he came to Europe to try and do some business in the 1980s, and got frustrated with the red tape and rules."
Trump could ‘rein it back’
He thinks Trump and May will put their differences aside when they meet at Chequers today.
“I think he’ll rein it back a bit when we get the press conference at Chequers,” said Newton Dunn on the Independent Republic of Mike Graham.
Listen to Tom Newton Dunn talking to Mike Graham above
“If [May] is antagonistic and rude to Trump the entire nation would be cheering. But is that likely to achieve her objectives? Does she want a US trade deal and Trump to help her out of this giant Brexit hole she’s in?
“Or does she take the view that her time in Number 10 is short, so she might offer the more confrontational approach? My bet is that she’ll appease him.”
He predicted that the president would also take a friendly approach.
“I think he’ll be more conciliatory, I think we’ll see a different president to the one I saw, I think we’ll see a bridge-builder. He still wants to be loved by Britain,” he said.
He also rubbished Nigel Farage's claims that he influenced Trump's answers: "I really don’t buy that Nigel Farage has told him what to say at all."
Aware of the ‘lack of welcome’
Newton Dunn said Trump was pleased to hear that Boris Johnson had praised him (the former foreign secretary was recorded this week saying “Imagine Trump doing Brexit… you might get somewhere) and in turn spoke favourably of him.
"I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he's got what it takes,” Trump said in the interview.
But the president was also disappointed at the protests in response to his visit, according to Newton Dunn.
“He’s well aware of the protests and the lack of a welcome he’s getting, he wants to be loved and a returning hero,” he said.
How hard is it to get an interview with Donald Trump?
“It took months of emails and persuasion,” said Newton Dunn.
“We suggested we were the biggest paper and might give him a sympathetic ear. We didn’t expect him to come out with what he said.”
He revealed that what was meant to be a 10-minute slot turned into a 28-minute interview after Trump granted him extra time.
“We got to the 10-minute point, and [press secretary] Sarah Huckabee Sanders said’ last question’.
“Trump said, ‘no, these guys are going to stay’. So we got 28 minutes down. He’s a man with strong opinions and I think they come from the heart.”
'Wasn't going there' on Putin questions
One thing he wouldn’t be drawn on, however, was his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
“I asked him twice if he wants to sit down with a man who uses nerve agent on the UK’s streets, and he smiled and said I want a good relationship with the man. He wasn’t going there at all,” said Newton Dunn.
The White House put out a press statement after the Sun interview ran, saying Donald Trump "likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview, she is a 'very good person' and he 'never said anything bad about her'.
"He thought she was great on NATO and a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the UK."