May: Trump visit will be a chance to strengthen ‘special relationship’

The US President caused criticism among British MPs for intervening with Brexit and leadership debates

British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump met when he visited the UK last July. AP
British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump met when he visited the UK last July. AP

As US President Donald Trump prepared to fly for London on Sunday evening, British Prime Minister Theresa May said his controversial state visit would be a chance to strengthen “the special relationship” between the two countries.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and be a guest of Queen Elizabeth II during the three-day visit.

He will then travel to Downing Street to have official talks with Mrs May.

US news reports say Mr Trump will take all of his adult children and their spouses with him, meaning he will need two aircraft.

Thousands of people are expected to protest against Mr Trump’s arrival on Tuesday in central London, with millions of pounds being spent on his security.

His last UK visit 11 months ago was overshadowed by throngs of protesters and a blimp depicting the president as a baby in a nappy.

“This is a significant week for the special relationship and an opportunity to further strengthen our already close partnership,” Mrs May said.

Monday evening’s banquet at the palace will be the first for a US president since 2011.

President Donald Trump with Queen Elizabeth II, inspecting the Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, in 2018. AP Photo
President Donald Trump with Queen Elizabeth II, inspecting the Guard of Honour at Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, last year. AP

During the visit, Mrs May and Mr Trump will take part in a historic commemoration of the D-Day landings that started a battle in which about 2,500 allied troops died 75 years ago.

She said the relationship between the two countries “underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come”.

“We do more together than any other nations in the world. We are the largest investors in each other’s economies and our strong trading relationship and close business links create jobs, opportunities and wealth for our citizens.

“Our security relationship too is deeper, broader and more advanced than with anyone else.

"Through joint military operations, unrivalled intelligence-sharing and our commitment to Nato, our global leadership remains at the heart of international peace and stability.”

Mr Trump has already made headlines before his visit by wading into two political issues in the UK: the country’s future prime minister and Brexit.

In an interview with The Sun at the weekend, he said that Brexiteer and former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an excellent prime minister to replace Mrs May.

The president met with criticism from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“President Trump’s attempt to decide who'll be Britain’s next PM is an entirely unacceptable interference in our democracy," Mr Corbyn said.

"The next PM should be chosen not by the US president, nor by 100,000 unrepresentative Tory party members, but by the British people in a general election."

Mr Trump's visit dismayed London mayor Sadiq Khan, who compared the president’s language to that of the “fascists of the 20th century” and said he should not be given red-carpet treatment.

“President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Mr Khan wrote in The Observer.

"The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years."

But Foreign Secretary and prime ministerial hopeful Jeremy Hunt told CBS News that although the UK was used to Mr Trump “doing the unexpected thing”, it was not going to affect the warmth of welcome he would get from the British government.

Speaking on the UK and US Middle East policy, Mr Hunt said that Britain had never disagreed with the US on the threat posed by Iran, and that the two countries shared intelligence.

“We have a very close intelligence-sharing relationship and we see the destabilisation that's happening in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, across the Middle East, and Yemen as well,” he said.

“But we do want to make sure that Iran doesn't go nuclear. And we think that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons other countries in the region would be likely to follow suit.

"And that could be very, very dangerous.”

Updated: June 3, 2019 10:08 AM

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