May to Trump: Renew special relationship between Britain and US

In her speech at the retreat for members of the Republican Party in Philadelphia on Thursday, Mrs May signalled a shift in foreign policy, bringing her position more in line with that of Mr Trump.
In her speech at the retreat for members of the Republican Party in Philadelphia on Thursday, Mrs May signalled a shift in foreign policy, bringing her position more in line with that of Mr Trump.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PHILADELPHIA • Joking that "opposites attract", British Prime Minister Theresa May urged US President Donald Trump to renew the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States and lead in a new, changed world.

In the US for what will be Mr Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader since he took office, Mrs May signalled a shift in foreign policy, bringing her position more in line with that of Mr Trump.

She urged the two countries and their leaders to stand united and confront new challenges, including the rise of economies in Asia that people fear could "eclipse the West", the threat of extremism and a resurgent Russia.

"So, we - our two countries together - have a responsibility to lead. Because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world," Mrs May told members of the Republican Party at their retreat on Thursday, in a speech often punctuated by applause from an enthusiastic crowd.

"This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by."

DUTY TO LEAD

So, we - our two countries together - have a responsibility to lead. Because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY

Her break with the interventionism that launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan underscores a change in global politics.

It also fits with Mr Trump's move to put "America first" and scores well with British voters, whose feeling of being left behind by globalisation helped fuel Britain's vote to leave the European Union last year.

Aware that Brexit will shape her legacy, Mrs May welcomed her early visit to the US, a boost to her attempts to show that Britain can prosper outside the EU despite criticism at home for cosying up to Mr Trump.

On her US-bound flight, Mrs May concentrated on similarities with the American leader, who some reporters suggested had a style in stark contrast to her more cautious, restrained approach.

"Haven't you ever noticed... sometimes opposites attract?" she answered with a laugh.

Eager to win favour - and a trade deal - with the new US President, so as to bolster her hand in the divorce talks with the EU, Mrs May said both countries shared many values. She added that, contrary to his statements that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) was obsolete, Mr Trump had told her he was committed to the US-led military alliance.

Mrs May said she supported Mr Trump's "reform agenda" to make Nato and the United Nations "more relevant and purposeful than they are today".

The two leaders are due to hold talks early today, Singapore time.

Both leaders should use the time to find areas where they could remove trade barriers, Mrs May said, adding: "We are both very clear that we want a trade deal."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'May to Trump: Renew special relationship between Britain and US'. Print Edition | Subscribe