Theresa May and Donald Trump to hold talks on trade deal that cuts tariffs and allows workers to move between the US and UK
Theresa May and Donald Trump will this week hold talks over a US-UK trade deal that slashes tariffs and makes it easier for hundreds of thousands of workers to move between the two countries.
The Prime Minister will on Friday become the first foreign leader to hold talks with the new President in the White House following assurances by Mr Trump’s team that he wants to do a major free trade deal with Britain that can be announced in the weeks after Brexit.
One option understood to be being discussed in Whitehall is to agree to cut – or even drop – tariffs on items Britain and America already export to one another.
News Sources believe any agreement on tariffs would give Mrs May significant leverage in her negotiations with Brussels and allow her to demand that EU leaders give Britain a good deal.
Government sources also said that Mrs May wants to explore ways in which it is easier for US citizens to work in the UK and vice-versa.
There are currently around one million Americans working in Britain and around one million UK citizens in the United States.
“We can grow those numbers,” a senior Government source said.
The job creation plan in both countries would allow President Trump to stand by his “America first” pledge whilst still agreeing to a deal that benefits both America and the UK.
Mrs May on Sunday said that she will hold discussions with the new President about trade, terrorism and the crisis in Syria.
“There will be many issues for us to talk about, because obviously the special relationship between the UK and the US has been strong for many years,” Mrs May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.
“We’ll have opportunity to talk about our possible future trading relationship, but also some of the world’s challenges that we will face, issues like defeating terrorism, the conflict in Syria.”
The Prime Minister added: “What I think is important is that when I sit down with Donald Trump I’m going to be able to talk about how we can build on that special relationship. He’s already said to me that he wants to see a very strong relationship between the UK and the US going into the future. There are issues that we will work together on in the future.
Whitehall insiders said that as part of a working group designing a possible UK-US trade deal, officials will attempt to find items the two countries already export to each other to see if it possible to agree “lower or even zero tarrifs”.
Mrs May made clear that she will discuss the importance of the NATO defence alliance, an organisation which Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised.
She said: “I’ve spoken to him about NATO. NATO is very important. NATO has been the bulwark of our security here in Europe and we work together in NATO. We’ve both made the point before about contributions being made by countries. The United Kingdom is spending two per cent of its GDP on defence. I believe that’s important.”
Mrs May stressed she will tell Mr Trump when she finds his behaviour “unacceptable” – a criticism she has already levelled at him over disparaging comments he made in the past about women.
The president’s numerous highly controversial remarks about women prompted a series of anti-Trump women’s marches in Britain, the US and around the world on Saturday.
Asked if she would raise the issue at their White House meeting, Mrs May said: “I have already said that some of the comments that Donald Trump has made in relation to women are unacceptable, some of those he himself has apologised for.
“When I sit down I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female Prime Minister, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, directly talking to him about the interests that we share.”
She said she was “proud” to be the second female Prime Minister, adding: “I will be talking to Donald Trump about the issues that we share – about how we can build on the special relationship, it’s the special relationship that also enables us to say when we do find things unacceptable.”