The image of Theresa May and Donald Trump holding hands at the White House, if only briefly, is a potent one, as the US and UK renewed their ‘deep bond’.
Speaking to British and American media, Trump also referenced the political shifts which brought the pair to power on opposite sides of the pond. May came to power in a leadership battle triggered after the Brexit vote, while Trump pushed an anti-establishment message to win over the American voters.
May said she was honoured to be the first world leader invited to Washington, and could count the trip as a diplomatic coup, after apparently outing Trump as backing Nato, despite his previous statements the military alliance was obsolete.
“On defence and security cooperation, we are united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense, and today we’ve reaffirmed our unshakable commitment to this alliance. Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed that you’re 100 percent behind NATO,” May told reporters in Washington.
Both dodged a potentially sticky situation over Russian sanctions. May stood firmly in favour of sanctions, while Trump was evasive.
“As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that. But, we look to have a great relationship with all countries, ideally. That won’t necessarily happen… But if we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China and with all the other countries, I’m all for that. That would be a tremendous asset. No guarantees, but if we can, that would be a positive, not a negative.”
The pair also discussed a potential bilateral trade agreement, but May’s hands are tied on any formal arrangements until the UK leaves the EU. It didn’t stop Trump from boasting that Brexit is a ‘wonderful thing’ for Britain.
The UK media chimed in on the May-Trump relationship
Steve Bell’s disturbing vision of “the special relationship”. pic.twitter.com/mU3xgTsQA1— James Melville ❄️ (@JamesMelville) January 26, 2017
My cartoon Friday
TheTimes</a> on the warm hand of friendship <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/maytrump?src=hash">#maytrump</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Washington?src=hash">#Washington</a> <a href="https://t.co/Rwushy4kRH">pic.twitter.com/Rwushy4kRH</a></p>— Peter Brookes (BrookesTimes) January 27, 2017
As did former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
Lady and the Trump.— John Prescott (@johnprescott) January 27, 2017
There May be trouble ahead.