Trump Meets Farage and May in London: Live Updates – Smart Media Magazine

Trump Meets Farage and May in London: Live Updates


President Trump said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday that he believed Brexit would eventually happen, adding that Britain is “a very, very special place and I think it deserves a special place.”

The comments came in the Durbar Court of the foreign office building on the second day of a three-day state visit as the two leaders held a brief but wide-ranging news conference that also touched on a trade deal, Huawei, Mr. Trump’s critics and tariffs on Mexico.

Mr. Trump has been a critic of Britain’s approach to Brexit, suggesting that Britain should take a more aggressive approach, but after saying he did not want to take a strong position, he said, “I think it will happen.”

Britain has been forced to seek an extension with the European Union on its Brexit plan, leading some to wonder if the withdrawal might never happen. For her part, Mrs. May reiterated that the country would be able to negotiate a deal.

“It is important for us to deliver Brexit,” she said. “I continue to believe it’s in the best interest of the British people to leave the E.U. in an orderly fashion, with a deal.”

Mr. Trump started his remarks by thanking the queen, calling her a “fantastic woman,” before turning to the strategic ties between the two countries, citing the areas of shared interest even though the relationship has sometimes been rocky during his tenure: the fight against the Islamic State, support for NATO and the question of how to deal with Iran.

Mrs. May opened by noting the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in World War II, comments that were echoed by Mr. Trump when he first spoke. She said that it was a fitting way to note the “special relationship” between the two countries, citing their shared democratic values and unity of purpose.

While acknowledging that the two countries had differed at times on how to face the challenges they confronted, Mrs. May praised the ways in which they have worked together, pointing out in particular the responses to Russian attempts to poison a former Soviet spy on the streets of England and to a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Mr. Trump said he had rejected an opportunity to talk with the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has been one of his harshest critics in Britain. He also continued his dispute with another fierce critic, the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, calling him, as well as Mr. Corbyn, a “negative force.”

Polls have shown that Mr. Trump is relatively unpopular in Britain, but the president dismissed those claims, saying that coverage of the protests was overblown. “There was great love,” he said.

Later in the day, at a joint news conference, Mr. Trump reiterated that Washington was committed to a “phenomenal” trade deal between the United States and Britain. “There is tremendous potential, I say two, maybe three times more than what we are doing today,” he said.

But the reality of negotiating such a deal is much more complicated, with the future leader of Britain unknown at the moment and the practicalities of the country’s withdrawal from the European Union unsettled.

Brexit supporters see a potential trade deal with the United States as one of the prizes of a complete break with the European Union, but such a pact could be contentious. Some worry that letting in American products would force Britain to lower its food and agricultural standards and could weaken health care in the country.

Mr. Trump said that “everything will be on the table” in negotiations for a trade deal, including the National Health Service, which provides free health care in Britain, and “all of that.”

The remarks immediately set off alarm bells in some parts of Britain. Opponents of Brexit, who have been pushing for a second referendum that would allow voters to pull back from a withdrawal, seized on the remarks.

Among the biggest questions hanging over Mr. Trump’s visit was whether he would meet Nigel Farage, a fanatically pro-Brexit politician who powered his upstart party to a win in European elections last month by castigating Prime Minister May and her Conservative Party.

The answer, not surprisingly, was yes. Mr. Farage was seen arriving at the American ambassador’s residence on Tuesday afternoon, and he praised the president afterward on Twitter.

That Mr. Trump would meet with one of Mrs. May’s most vociferous critics, only an hour after heaping praise on the prime minister at a news conference, was another reminder of how weak her party is. And it further bolstered Mr. Farage’s credibility as he seeks influence over the Brexit process, all the more so because Mr. Trump had declined a meeting with Britain’s main opposition figure, Jeremy Corbyn, who leads the Labour Party.

But it was not an entirely untroubled day for Mr. Farage. He was asked to attend a meeting on Wednesday of a committee investigating whether he broke European Parliament rules by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars, an order he vowed to defy.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to replace Mrs. May as prime minister. Before arriving in London, Mr. Trump suggested that he might meet with Mr. Johnson, the former foreign minister, calling him “a friend of mine.”

But Mr. Johnson declined an invitation for a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Trump; the two men did have a 20-minute telephone call Tuesday morning, according to The Press Association.

Mr. Johnson told ITV’s Robert Peston that he had turned down the invitation because it conflicted with a campaign event. He is scheduled to make his case for leadership to Conservative Party members at 8 p.m.

Mr. Trump is also expected to meet with another Tory leader on Wednesday: Michael Gove, the environment minister, who is also a candidate to replace Mrs. May.

In the context of this week — when Labour figures have been pilloried for skipping formal events — Mr. Johnson’s decision could be read as a choice to distance himself from the American president.

“Trump and his racist, divisive policies are not welcome in our country,” said Amy Hunter, one protester.

“Stop Racism, Stop Trump,” one placard read. “Climate change is real, your tan is not,” read another. Some groups wore caps emblazoned with spin on the president’s campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again. Impeach Me.”

“It is so embarrassing that our government has invited this fascist buffoon back to our country and is giving him royal treatment, pulling out the red carpet and wining and dining him with our tax money,” said Ruby Lawson, 38.

“We want to show the world and Trump that this is not O.K. and Trump is not welcome.”

Such was the case last Friday in Berlin, where Mr. Pompeo met with Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss sensitive issues like Afghanistan, Iran and Ukraine.

In Switzerland, which acts as a conduit between Washington and Tehran, Mr. Pompeo talked with Swiss officials about American efforts to confront Iran. But he sent mixed signals in public proclamations about whether the Trump administration intended to soften or harden its approach.

On Monday, before attending a conference of international entrepreneurs in The Hague, Mr. Pompeo denounced China’s economic policies and repeated the Trump administration’s concerns about allowing Huawei and other Chinese firms to build next-generation 5G communications networks.

“China wants to be the dominant economic and military power of the world, spreading its authoritarian vision for society and its corrupt practices worldwide,” Mr. Pompeo said, at a news conference with the Dutch foreign minister, Stef Blok.

Mr. Trump expressed confidence that the United States and Britain would reach an agreement about the use of products from the Chinese technology giant Huawei that American officials have said poses a national security threat.

During the news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Trump appeared to play down comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said the United States will limit intelligence-sharing with countries that do not bar Huawei from their 5G telecommunications networks.

“I see absolutely no limitations,” Mr. Trump said.

Britain is considering whether to allow equipment made by Huawei in the next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G, that will be built in the years ahead. The American authorities have called for an outright ban, but some British officials have said such a blanket blockade is not necessary.

“We are going to absolutely have an agreement on Huawei,” Mr. Trump said during a joint news conference with Mrs. May. “We will be able to work out any differences.”

Mrs. May did not speak about Huawei. Actions by the United States in recent weeks have complicated how other countries are crafting policies related to Chinese technology companies. Last month, the United States blacklisted Huawei, limiting American companies’ abilities to provide it with software and components.

Huawei has become a flash point in the broader trade dispute between the United States and China. The debate about Huawei highlights a broader conundrum for European leaders as they try to balance relationships with the world’s two largest economies.

Maggie Haberman, Mark Landler, Ellen Barry, Edward Wong, Ceylan Yeginsu, Adam Satariano Megan Specia, Michael Wolgelenter, Alan Yuhas and Christine Spolar contributed reporting.



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