Thursday 18 January 2018

May talks of 'special relationship' ahead of White House visit

British PM Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images
British PM Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images

Peter Dominiczak London

British Prime Minister Theresa May will say today that Britain and America can "rediscover our confidence" and "lead together again" in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Mrs May will address the annual congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia and say that the UK and US will "renew the special relationship" now that Mr Trump is in the White House. Tomorrow she will become the first foreign leader to meet Mr Trump since he was sworn-in.

She will present the president with an engraved quaich - a traditional Scottish drinking cup signifying friendship - and give his wife, Melania, a hamper full of produce from Chequers, including Bakewell tarts.

The two leaders will talk in the Oval Office and are expected to discuss plans for a post-Brexit trade deal. Mrs May travels to America as her government publishes a short Article 50 Bill in parliament, which formally begins the process of Britain leaving the EU. There will now be weeks of debates as Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs put down amendments to the bill.

Mrs May confirmed yesterday that she intended to publish a detailed Brexit White Paper after demands by Conservative Remain supporters who had been planning a Commons rebellion over the issue. Labour was again left in chaos, with suggestions that Jeremy Corbyn could allow his MPs to oppose the Bill in the face of a front-bench revolt, despite the party leader last week saying he would force MPs to vote for Article 50.

Ahead of Mrs May's visit, Mr Trump said the planning for a wall between Mexico and America would begin "immediately", and that Mexico "absolutely, 100pc" will reimburse the US for what would be a 3,200km structure.

In her speech today, Mrs May will compare Mr Trump's election to the EU referendum, making clear that both votes represent a chance to "renew" America and Britain.

"The United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world," Mrs May will say.

"And as we end our membership of the European Union - as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year - we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. So as we rediscover our confidence together - as you renew your nation just as we renew ours - we have the opportunity - indeed the responsibility - to renew the special relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead, together, again."

Mrs May will say a stronger special relationship is "important not only to Britain and America but to the world".

"The leadership provided by our two countries through the special relationship has done more than win wars and overcome adversity. It made the modern world," she will say.

"The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived or inspired by our two nations working together."

Irish Independent

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