Trump’s U.K. state visit turns from pomp and pageantry to foreign policy – USA TODAY
LONDON – President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday as his state visit to Britain shifted gears from pomp and pageantry to talks over a range of policy issues from climate to Iran that the close allies disagree over.
A trade deal for when Britain leaves the European Union was also discussed.
Trump told May at a meeting with U.S. and British business leaders on Tuesday that she should “stick around” so the two nations can do a trade deal. “Let’s do this deal,” Trump said to May at the event, at St. James’s Palace in London.
May formally relinquishes her role as prime minister on Friday.
Trump is spending three days in Britain with first lady Melania Trump and his adult children. The trip is aimed at celebrating the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States before Trump travels to Ireland and France for bilateral meetings and a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Trump’s U.K. visit: What you need to know, from royal ceremony to protests
On Monday, the Trumps visited Buckingham Palace, where they met the queen and her son and heir Prince Charles. They were feted at a lavish banquet where Britain’s 93-year-old monarch toasted an alliance that ensured “the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades.” Trump spoke of the two nations’ “eternal friendship.”
But Tuesday’s schedule turns more to politics and will highlight fresh uncertainty in the allies’ storied relationship, not least because of May’s impending departure as Britain’s leader. From Friday, May will be in a caretaker role as her ruling Conservative Party begins a weeks-long process to succeed her as prime minister.
May stepped down after failing to arrange Britain’s exit from the EU, now delayed until at least Oct. 31, unless both sides agree to an extension. Trump has stated that his British political ally Nigel Farage, an outspoken advocate of leaving the EU without a deal, should be given a role in the negotiations. He has also taken the unusual diplomatic step of advocating for his “friend” Boris Johnson – a prominent U.S.-born, gaffe-prone politician who campaigned to leave the bloc – to be Britain’s new leader.
“Big Trade Deal is possible once U.K. gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk,” Trump tweeted Monday, referring to the country’s potential opportunity to sign a bilateral trade accord with the U.S. once it leaves the EU, known as Brexit.
Trump and May met with American and British corporate executives including CEOs and senior representatives from BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Barclays, Reckitt Benckiser, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs International. His daughter Ivanka Trump, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also attended the business roundtable.
May said trade between Britain and the U.S. last year was worth almost $240 billion.
She said British companies employ a million people across the U.S, and that “every morning, a million people in the U.K. go to work for American employers in the U.K.”
In the afternoon, the two leaders will take part in a news conference.
There, a number of issues on which they diverge could come up, including the national security threat posed by Chinese telecom giant Huawei and whether allies should use its 5G technology and equipment; and British skepticism over Trump’s withdrawal from multilateral accords aimed at curbing climate change and Iran’s nuclear facilities.
While standing next to Trump at the dinner banquet at Buckingham Palace on Monday night the queen appeared to deliver a veiled rebuke to Trump’s repeated attacks on U.S. allies and international organizations such as NATO and the United Nations.
“As we face the new challenges of the Twenty-First Century, the anniversary of D-Day reminds us of all that our countries have achieved together. After the shared sacrifices of the Second World War, Britain and the United States worked with other allies to build an assembly of international institutions, to ensure that the horrors of conflict would never be repeated,” she said in an address to prominent American and British guests.
“While the world has changed, we are forever mindful of the original purpose of these structures: nations working together to safeguard a hard won peace,” she added.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of protesters were expected in central London to take part in a “Carnival of Resistance” in opposition to Trump. Environmental activists, anti-racism campaigners and women’s rights protesters will take to the streets around Parliament Square to declare a “Trump-free zone.” Also participating: The phone-wielding, diaper-wearing inflatable blimp known as “Trump Baby.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who boycotted the state dinner, tweeted the protests were “an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those (Trump) has attacked in America, around the world and in our own country,” including London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan. Trump called him a “stone cold loser” just before arriving in Britain.
Queen Elizabeth’s glittery state banquet: Toasts and national anthems