Trump in UK: Brexit, Huawei and lunch with the Queen

LONDON • United States President Donald Trump is likely to wade into Britain's Brexit turmoil during a visit to London next week, during which he will also tell outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May that her successor should ban Huawei from building 5G networks.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania will be treated to a display of British royal pageantry during the visit from Monday to Wednesday: lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, tea with Prince Charles, a banquet at Buckingham Palace and a tour of Westminster Abbey, the coronation church of English monarchs for 1,000 years.

Beyond the pomp, though, the US leader also brings demands.

He will show support for a more radical Brexit-supporting successor to Mrs May and demand a tougher British stance on China and telecommunications giant Huawei.

Mr Trump, 72, lauded Mr Boris Johnson and Mr Nigel Farage, Britain's most high-profile Brexit supporters, as his friends on Thursday. "Nigel is a friend of mine. Boris is a friend of mine," said Mr Trump. "I think they are big powers over there, I think they have done a good job."

A meeting with either Mr Johnson, the favourite to be the next British prime minister, or Mr Farage, a bombastic anti-establishment campaigner, would be seen as a snub for Mrs May, who is bowing out after failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that Parliament could ratify.

British officials are privately concerned that Mr Trump could humiliate Mrs May.

 
 
 

During his last visit to Britain, in July last year, Mr Trump shocked the country's political establishment by hammering Mrs May's Brexit negotiation for being too weak with the European Union and by praising her rival, Mr Johnson, as a "great" potential prime minister.

Mr John Bolton, Mr Trump's national security adviser, said the US did not want to get in the middle of Brexit or a discussion of the next government's policies.

"The US remains Britain's staunchest ally in the world and the President is prepared to help out in any way he can," Mr Bolton told reporters in London.

At a meeting with Mrs May, Mr Trump will warn Britain that security cooperation could be hurt if it allows China's Huawei a role in building parts of the 5G network, the next generation of cellular technology.

The Trump administration has told allies not to use Huawei's 5G technology and equipment because of fears that it would allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data. Huawei denies that it is, or could be, a vehicle for Chinese intelligence.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'Trump in UK: Brexit, Huawei and lunch with the Queen'. Print Edition | Subscribe