Trump To Meet With UK Prime Minister, As May Denies Her Brexit Plans Are “Muddled”
While Trump has yet engage the social network on Sunday, in his last tweet on Saturday evening, President-elect Donald Trump said he would will meet with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in the spring as the British leader seeks to rejuvenate ties with the US after a frosty start to their relationship and expand the UK’s relationship with the U.S. after her country withdraws from the European Union.
“I look very much forward to meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington in the Spring. Britain, a longtime U.S. ally, is very special!” Trump said.
I look very much forward to meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington in the Spring. Britain, a longtime U.S. ally, is very special!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2017
May, who has spoken to Trump twice by phone, is seeking to build bridges after she and her predecessor David Cameron made critical comments about him before his election. As Bloomberg notes, May sent her two most senior aides on a secret trip to the U.S. in mid-December to meet members of his team and said she wants to develop links between the two countries.
“The special relationship we have with the United States is an important relationship in terms of security and stability around the world,” May said in an interview Sunday on Sky News. “The conversations I’ve had, I think we’re going to look to build on that relationship for the benefit of both the United States and the U.K. and I think that’s something that’s optimistic and positive for the U.K. for the future.”
As Bloomberg adds, May is seeking to recover lost ground after she was outflanked by her political rival Nigel Farage, the former U.K. Independence Party leader, who met Trump within days of his victory in November. She rejected Trump’s controversial suggestion that Farage should be made U.K. ambassador in Washington. In December 2015, May, then Britain’s home secretary, criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong.”
Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the premier’s joint chiefs of staff who traveled to Washington last month, also had to build bridges of their own. Before they took up posts in May’s new government in July, Timothy said on Twitter that he did not want “any ‘reaching out’ to Trump,” while Hill tweeted: “Donald Trump is a chump.”
The urgency to “build trans-Atlantic bridges” and expand trade with the US, is predicated by the UK’s somewhat tempestuous fallout with its former European partners. May stressed the importance she places on building links with the new White House as the U.K. seeks to expand trade with the U.S. after it withdraws from the European Union.
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U.K. officials are said to be concerned by their poor links with the incoming U.S. administration as Britain develops post-Brexit plans. There are signs Trump, who has a Scottish mother, may be a willing partner. Whereas Obama said Britain would be “at the back of the queue” to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S., Trump told Farage Britain would be “at the front.”
During the Sky News interview, May was asked to comment on a recording of Trump from 2005 in which he said he likes to grab women “by the pussy.” She replied that the words used were “unacceptable,” though said that Trump has since apologized for using them.
“I think that’s unacceptable, but in fact Donald Trump himself has said that and has apologized for it,” May said in response. “But the relationship that the U.K. has with the U.S. is about something much bigger than just the relationship between the two individuals as president and prime minister. It’s a relationship where actually in the U.K. we feel we can say to the U.S. if we disagree with something that they are doing.”
Meanwhile, going back to the Sky News interview, Theresa May who has faced increasing attacks about the Brexit process, denied the government’s plan to exit the European Union is “muddled,” saying she’ll unveil details of her strategy in the coming weeks. May said no plan for Brexit was drawn up by her predecessor David Cameron and she needed to assess the situation and work out the correct way to act once Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked by the end of March, starting two years of divorce talks.
Theresa May interviewed on Jan 8
“There hadn’t been any plans made for Brexit so it was important for us to take some time to look at the issues, look at the complexity of the issues,” May said Sunday in an interview with Sky News. “Our thinking on this isn’t muddled,” she said, “I will be setting out some more details in coming weeks as we look ahead to triggering Article 50.”
May defended herself against an allegation by Ivan Rogers, Britain’s envoy to the EU who quit last week, that her government lacks an effective strategy for leaving the bloc. She said a deal will have to include control over Britain’s borders, which other EU leaders have said will be a bar for giving the U.K. access to Europe’s single market in goods and services.
“I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power,” Rogers wrote in a resignation note to colleagues. “The government will only achieve the best for the country if it harnesses the best experience we have.”
Asked about the tradeoff between single-market membership and free movement of people, which will be at the heart of the negotiations, May said Sunday it will be about “getting the right relationship, not about keeping bits of membership.” “We are leaving. We are coming out. We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer, so the question is what is the right relationship for the U.K. to have with the European Union when we are outside,” she said. “We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws, but we still want the best possible deal for U.K. companies to be able to trade in and within the EU and European companies to operate and trade in the U.K.”
Steve Baker, who leads a grouping of about 60 Euroskeptic lawmakers from May’s Conservative Party, said the premier’s comments were “great news for the U.K.”
“This is welcome clarification of a sensible position by the prime minister,” Baker said in an e-mail. “The best outcome for the U.K. is an ambitious trade deal plus control of our laws, trade policy and borders.”
Despite repeated threats the UK economy would founder following Brexit, it continues to perform admirably, the FTSE100 index keeps rising to record highs, and on Friday the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane made the stark admission that the BOE had cried wolf ahead of Brexit, leading to further loss of credibility:
As the Telegraph reported, the Bank of England has admitted its dire warnings of a downturn in the wake of the Brexit vote were a “Michael Fish” moment and said that the economics profession was now in “crisis”.
Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, said there was a “disconnect” between political warnings about Brexit and the “remarkably placid” state of the markets, adding that the worst predictions may turn out to be “just scare stories”.
He made the concession as new figures suggested Britain was the fastest growing of all advanced economies last year after the services sector defied gloomy forecasts to hit a 17-month high.