In Trade-Deal Talks with Trump, May Pledges to Put U.K. First

As British Prime Minister Theresa May seeks to give the U.K. a leading role in world commerce after Brexit, she promised to put Britain first in trade talks with U.S. President Donald Trump this week.

After she was challenged over the detail of the proposed new U.S.-U.K. free-trade agreement, the British premier echoed Trump’s “America First” slogan in comments to lawmakers in Parliament in London on Wednesday.

“We will be looking for a U.S.-U.K. trade deal that improves trade between our two countries, that will bring prosperity and growth to this country, that will ensure that we can bring jobs to this country as well,” May said. “In doing that, we will put U.K. interests and U.K. values first.”

The premier will be the first foreign leader to meet the new president in the White House on Friday and she flies to the U.S. on Thursday.

With the aim to bolster exports as the country prepares to leave the European Union, May’s team is keen to secure a trade deal with the U.S. She wants the U.K. to strike deals with countries around the world after Brexit and to become the global champion of free trade, she said last week.

A special friendship between the two countries grew during the terms of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan and now both that sides have encouraged comparisons to that level of friendship. He sees the relationship with May as potentially close and valuable, Trump has said.

Trump’s Team has signaled a desire for a quick deal and the Trump administration is already putting in place the building blocks for an agreement.

Even though British ministers plan to hold discussions — and even formal negotiations — before Brexit, the U.K. is legally barred from signing new trade deals with countries outside the European Union while it remains a member of the bloc. the president wants the deal to be “signature-ready” for the day the U.K. leaves the EU, scheduled for 2019, said pro-Brexit lawmaker Michael Gove, who interviewed Trump this month for The Times of London.

“It’s very simple, we want to achieve an arrangement that ensures that the interests of the United Kingdom are there, and are put first, and that’s what I will be doing,” May told the House of Commons during her weekly question-and-answer session.

May was also asked by former opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband if she’ll press Trump to provide British scientists to convince the president that climate change is “not a hoax” created by China and not to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement to limit global warming.

“I would hope that all parties will continue to ensure that the climate-change agreement is put into practice,” May replied.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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Categories: Economy & Finance

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