President Donald Trump’s UK trip went from pomp and pageantry to politics on June 4 as he met with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May in London to discuss a bilateral trade deal to go into effect after the UK leaves the European Union.
Although Trump has criticized May in the past, he praised the trading relationship between the two countries on the second day of his state visit, as the leaders held a joint news conference near the prime minister’s Downing Street office. May is due to step down on June 7.
“The United Kingdom is America’s largest foreign investor and our largest European export market,” Trump said. “As the UK makes preparations to exit the European Union, the United States is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the U.S. and the UK.”
Trump praised what he called the “the greatest alliance the world has ever known” in describing the countries’ relationship as he commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II.
“The bonds of friendship forged here and sealed in blood on those hallowed beaches will endure forever,” he said.
Before the joint news conference, Trump and May had an economic meeting at St. James’s Palace that brought together 10 leading companies—five from the UK and five from the United States. CEOs and senior representatives from BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, National Grid, Barclays, Reckitt Benckiser, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs International, Bechtel, and Splunk were listed as attending.
May noted the trading relationship between the two allies is worth “over 190 billion [pounds] ($241 billion) a year.”
Trump said that “everything is on the table” in regard to the possible trade deal, including the National Health Service. “We’re the largest investors in each other’s economies, with mutual investments valued at as much as $1 trillion.”
During the conference, May was asked if she might stay longer in order to work out a trade deal with the United States. She said that was out of the question.
“I’m a woman of my word,” she told reporters, in reference to her impending departure.
May, who also praised the countries’ “precious” relationship, acknowledged some differences with Trump on issues including climate change and Iran.
May said they discussed the importance of working together to address “Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region and to ensure Tehran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.” Although, she said that they “differ on the means of achieving that.”
The UK still supports an international agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but Trump has withdrawn the United States from the deal. May also mentioned Britain’s continued support for the Paris agreement on climate change, which Trump has pulled out from.
Trump, who called May a “tremendous professional,” also discussed the Chinese company Huawei, and stressed that any issues about intelligence sharing with Britain could be resolved. The Trump administration has told allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology and equipment because of fears that could allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data that may affect intelligence-sharing.
After the joint conference, Trump met with Nigel Farage, leader of the UK’s Brexit Party. Farage was pictured by a Reuters photographer arriving at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London, where Trump is staying.
The president said he had turned down a requested meeting from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Later in the afternoon, Trump, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, toured the Churchill War Rooms, the British government’s underground command center during World War II.
Just after 8 p.m. local time, the Trumps welcomed Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, in front of the U.S. ambassador’s residence, where the first couple hosted a dinner attended by around 60 dignitaries. U.S. officials in attendance included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton; and press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Trump will use the next two days to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the pivotal battle on June 6, 1944, that left thousands of Allied troops dead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.