Former Commons speaker John Bercow has criticised Theresa May for the eagerness in which she paid “homage to Donald Trump” during the early days of his presidency.

The ex-prime minister was the first foreign leader to meet the US president in January 2017 when the pair held bilateral discussions in Washington only days after his inauguration.

The former leader of the Conservative Party also extended an invitation to Mr Trump for a state visit to the UK soon after his election victory in November 2016.

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His visit to the country in June 2019 – which saw him become only the third US president to be offered a state visit – was one of the final acts of the May premiership before she was replaced by Boris Johnson the following month.

Speaking to Times Radio, the former speaker said he thought the former home secretary found her attempts to develop strong ties to the Trump administration “ultimately ineffective”.

Former MP Mr Bercow, who stood down as speaker in November 2019, said: “I thought it was a great pity for a start that Theresa May rushed to pay homage to Donald Trump.

Ex-Commons speaker John BercowEx-Commons speaker John Bercow (Mark Johnson/Channel 4)

“She seemed almost breathless in her quest to get him to come to this country and speak here.”

Mr Bercow said her relationship with Mr Trump fell apart after she criticised the president for retweeting material from far-right political group Britain First.

The former speaker said: “He, as we know, is notoriously thin-skinned (and) turned on her.

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“And OK, her efforts on Brexit were fruitless and often maladroit, but he then conducted a running commentary on those efforts, undermining her at every turn.

“So I think she probably realised that currying favour with him was ultimately ineffective and maybe even counterproductive.”

There are currently calls for Mr Trump to be impeached – despite having less than two weeks left in the White House before president-elect Joe Biden takes the reins – for inciting the riots which saw protesters occupy the Capitol building in Washington this week. Five people, including a policeman, died during the mayhem.

Trump cast doubt on the legitimacy of November’s US election, in which he was defeated by Democrat rival Mr Biden.