British Prime Minister Theresa May joked that ‘opposites attract’ and called on Donald Trump to renew the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK on a visit to America.
May, who came to power in the leadership battle rather than via a public vote, said she was honoured to be the first head of government to visit the new president as she spoke to the Republican policy retreat in Philadelphia.
In the wake of Brexit, May was keen to win favour and a new trade deal. She stressed the nations’ shared values despite criticism from home that she was being soft on Trump.
“It is my honour and privilege to do so at this time as dawn breaks on a new era of American renewal,” she told the audience at the GOP policy retreat.
She did however, urge caution when it came to Russia with a short history lesson.
“As so often it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan who during his negotiations with his opposite number Michail Gorbachev used to abide by the adage ‘trust but verify’… with president Putin my advice is to ‘engage, but beware.’”
She said the days of interventionist policies were over, saying the UK and America must stand up for their own interests.
“The most important institution is and should alway be the Nation State. Strong nations form strong institutions and they form the basis of the international partnerships and cooperation that bring stability to our world.”
She said she supported Trump’s ‘reform agenda’ to make NATO and the UN more ‘relevant’, but she said these institutions were still ‘vital’.
As Britain walks away from Europe, Theresa May is getting a head start on new alliances across the pond, but time will tell whether Trump will prove to be a reliable partner.
There are potential sticking points – she said she condemned the use of torture after Trump said ‘torture works’. She must also walk a fine line of pleasing those at home who may see her rhetoric as too pro-Trump but not be too negative of a future trading partner.