Donald Trump: May presses case for US trade deal at dinner

Melania and Donald Trump and Theresa and Philip May Image copyright Reuters

Theresa May has welcomed Donald Trump to the UK with a lavish black-tie dinner – during which she made a case for a new trade deal with the US.

The US president and the First Lady were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.

It is Mr Trump’s first visit to the UK since he won the 2016 election.

Protesters gathered outside the US ambassador’s residence in London, where the Trumps are staying tonight, and near Blenheim Palace.

Police estimated there were about 1,000 people demonstrating near the palace, the birthplace of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

His visit comes as the government published its plans for the UK’s relations with the EU after Brexit.

Earlier this week Mr Trump said it was “up to the people” whether Mrs May stayed on as prime minister after two cabinet ministers resigned over her Brexit policy.

Image copyright PA
Image caption There was a large police presence outside the gates to Blenheim Palace

Mrs May noted that more than one million Americans work for UK-owned firms, telling Mr Trump: “As we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more.

“It’s an opportunity to reach a free trade agreement that creates jobs and growth here in the UK and right across the United States.

“It’s also an opportunity to tear down the bureaucratic barriers that frustrate business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

“And it’s an opportunity to shape the future of the world through co-operation in advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence.”

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mrs May greeted Donald Trump as he left his car
Image copyright Reuters

The Trumps landed at Stansted Airport, Essex, at 13:50 BST before a helicopter took them to Winfield House in Regent’s Park, where they are staying as guests of the US ambassador.

They stayed there for several hours before travelling to the 18th Century palace near Woodstock for the evening’s events.

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Media captionUS President Donald Trump arrived at Stansted Airport for a two-day working visit

Mrs May and her husband Philip, joined by around 150 guests, waited outside the building in the sunshine for the president and First Lady.

The Trumps were driven from their helicopter in the armoured presidential limousine, nicknamed The Beast, to the red carpet awaiting them.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Blenheim Palace is the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill

They stood with the Mays to listen to the bandsmen of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards, who played the Liberty Fanfare, Amazing Grace and the National Emblem.

Cabinet members and business leaders from sectors including finance, travel, food and defence were among the guests at the dinner.

Only one person, the digital entrepreneur and philanthropist Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, has publicly refused the invitation.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters near Blenheim Palace making their feelings known

They were given a best-of-British dinner, featuring Scottish salmon, Hereford beef fillet and strawberries with clotted cream ice-cream.

During the dinner, Mrs May said: “Mr President, Sir Winston Churchill once said that ‘to have the United States at our side was, to me, the greatest joy’.

“The spirit of friendship and co-operation between our countries, our leaders and our people, that most special of relationships, has a long and proud history.

“Now, for the benefit of all our people, let us work together to build a more prosperous future.”

‘Dearest of friends’

She stressed that the US and UK are “not just the closest of allies, but the dearest of friends”.

Perhaps in a reference to Mr Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday, she said that Britain and the US work closely together in the interests of their shared security, “whether through targeting Daesh [Islamic State group] terrorists or standing up to Russian aggression”.

But she returned again to the economy, saying: “The strength and breadth of Britain’s contribution to the US economy cannot be understated.

“The UK is the largest investor in the US, providing nearly a fifth of all foreign investment in your country.

“We invest 30% more than our nearest rival. More than 20 times what China invests. And more than France and Germany combined.

“That all means a great deal more than simply numbers in bank accounts. It means jobs, opportunities and wealth for hardworking people right across America.”

Cabinet ministers including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and her effective deputy David Lidington were among those present.

They were entertained by The Countess of Wessex’s Orchestra, playing British and American hits of the 20th Century during dinner.

The Trumps are staying at Winfield House, in London’s Regent’s Park, this evening. Protesters have also gathered there, making their displeasure felt in a noisy protest as they heard Marine One overhead earlier.

Extra security is in place to police the protests. More are planned for the second day of Mr Trump’s visit.

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Media captionSome of Mr Trump’s supporters and protesters have been explaining their motivation

On Friday, Mrs May and Mr Trump will go to watch a joint counter-terrorism exercise by British and US special forces at a military base.

The pair will then travel to Chequers – the PM’s country residence in Buckinghamshire – for talks with the foreign secretary.

The president and first lady will travel to Windsor on Friday afternoon to meet the Queen, before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at Mr Trump’s Turnberry golf resort. This part of the visit is being considered private.



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