Sunak declines to say if he would work with a re-elected Trump after conviction

Donald Trump’s trial is not “my focus”, Rishi Sunak has said when asked if he would work with the convicted former US president if the Republican returns to power.

The Prime Minister refused to comment on the ex-president’s hush money trial conviction when asked by reporters.

A New York jury found Mr Trump guilty of falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who said the two had sex.

The former president, the first to be convicted of felony crimes, insisted he was a “very innocent man” and claimed without evidence the trial was “rigged”.

Asked whether he was willing to work with a convicted felon in the White House if he wins July’s election, the Prime Minister said: “You wouldn’t expect me to comment on another country’s domestic politics or judicial processes.

“I’m focused squarely on the election here at home, talking to people across the country about the choice at our election.

“That’s my focus.”

Former President Donald Trump, seen through a camera viewfinder
Donald Trump has been found guilty on all 34 counts following his trial (Jeenah Moon/Pool Photo via AP)

When pressed for a response while on the campaign trail in Bury, Mr Sunak told reporters that the US had always been a “key partner and ally of the United Kingdom”.

Referring to the latest joint airstrikes on Houthi rebels, he added: “I’ve always had a good relationship with my opposite number, any British prime minister should prioritise that.

“As you saw from the action that we took overnight, together with our American allies, that partnership is strong.”

When pushed on the original question, Mr Sunak said: “Of course I respect the justice system of the United States.”

He added: “I wouldn’t also comment on judicial processes while they’re ongoing in our own country, because there’s a separation between politicians and judicial systems, and we should let judicial systems do what they need to do independently of politics.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said this was an “unprecedented situation”.

Speaking at a campaign event in Inverclyde, he said: “First and foremost we respect the court’s decision in relation to the decision in the Trump case.”

He added: “We will work with whoever is elected president… that’s what you’d expect.

“We have a special relationship with the US that transcends whoever the president is, but it is an unprecedented situation, there is no doubt about that.

“And there’s a long way yet to go I think in relation to what happens next.”

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary and a close ally of Mr Sunak, described Mr Trump’s conviction as “extraordinary”.

Asked if the Prime Minister would trust Mr Trump following the guilty verdict, Mr Stride told Times Radio he would not comment on the judicial process in the US.

But he added: “What I’m absolutely sure of is that whatever the outcome of the election – and I very much hope that Rishi is back in Number 10 for all sorts of reasons that we may come on to – that we will have a good and enduring continuingly positive relationship with the United States, whoever is going to be president in November.

“That’s a relationship which, as you know, goes back many decades, so it’s always been solid and has always been to our advantage, and to the advantage of America in her leadership of the West.”

Labour’s shadow science secretary Peter Kyle said his party would focus on preserving the UK and US’s relationship.

He told Times Radio: “It’s a special relationship and we need to focus on preserving that for future generations. So there are things that transcend the governments of any day.

“Britain and America work incredibly closely on defence, security, intelligence, and of course the economic ties are numerous and incredibly important to both countries.”