'Let's do this deal', Trump tells May on day two of state visit

BY JOSEPHINE KUUBAIBONG - Jun 04, 2019 at 3:04pm 100 COMMENTS


US President Donald Trump has said he believes Britain can have a "very very substantial trade deal" with the US after it leaves the EU.

Mr Trump told Theresa May to "stick around" during a meeting with business leaders on day two of his state visit.

The pair are now meeting at No 10, with contentious issues such as doing business with Huawei on the agenda.

Protesters have gathered in nearby Parliament Square, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn due to speak shortly.

During a breakfast meeting at St James's Palace earlier today, Mr Trump said he believed there was scope for further expansion of trade between the US and the UK.

"I think we will have a very, very substantial trade deal," he told Mrs May.

"This is something you want to do and my folks want to do," he added. "Stick around. Let's do this deal."

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that Mr Trump's remark to "stick around" was meant almost as a pleasantry rather than a serious plea for Mrs May to reconsider her plan to stand down. "It's just trying to make this a little bit easier for her," Mr Smith said.

He added that although Mr Trump "talks a good game" over a trade deal, the UK is likely to be in for a "slow haul", with most deals taking around ten years.

The meeting of five British and five American firms, senior ministers and officials was held in a bid to boost trade links.

Mrs May said there were "huge opportunities" for Britain and the US to work together in the future.

"It is a great partnership but I think a partnership we can take even further," she told the president, adding: "Of course that is with a good bilateral trade deal."

The US president is also set to hold talks with Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove, according to sources close to the environment secretary.

Mr Trump praised Mr Gove's leadership rival Boris Johnson ahead of his visit to the UK.

A source close to Mr Gove told the Press Association "nothing has been fixed yet" but added: "Mr Gove was asked last night by Mr Trump's team if he would be able to meet the president today. He said yes."

'Inappropriate' visit

Meanwhile, protesters have gathered in central London to voice their opposition to President Trump's visit. Demonstrations are also planned in Birmingham, Stoke, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chester, Leicester, Oxford and Exeter.

Police said more than 3,000 officers have been deployed for the president's visit.

Mr Corbyn - who boycotted the state dinner - will be joined at the rally by members of other political parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Mr Corbyn tweeted that the protest was "an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those [Mr Trump has] attacked in America, around the world and in our own country" including Sadiq Khan.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan defended his party leader Mr Corbyn's decision to boycott the state dinner at the palace.

Mr Khan said he felt he and Mr Corbyn shared the view that a "close relationship" with the US president was important.

But he added: "What shouldn't happen is a state banquet and a state visit with the red carpet rolled out. I think it's inappropriate. I think those visits should be reserved for leaders who have done something and deserve that. I think it sends the wrong message to be seen to condone some of the things this president has said and done."

We were promised a carnival atmosphere but it feels like we're still waiting for the bongos to arrive.

What we do have is British satire on display for the masses of TVs crews and cameras from around the world.

Outside the House of Commons, there's the Trump baby Blimp grasping his mobile phone poised to be launched in to the grey skies.

Two men are selling toilet paper branded with Mr Trump's face - "America's number one for your number twos" at two for £5.

And there's a man dressed as a gorilla, with the face of Mr Trump locked in a cage alongside a jail-suited Boris Johnson, his blond hair uncannily like Mr Johnson's own.

Not so funny are the more serious protesters, carrying banners calling to Lock Him Up and another saying Trump is a danger to the world.

A group of work colleagues on holiday from Belgium gave up a day taking in the sights of London to join the protest.

"He called Brussels a hell-hole," said Deborah Debbaudt, from Ghent. "We just don't like him."

On Monday Mr Trump was welcomed by the Queen and had lunch at Buckingham Palace with senior royals. He also visited Westminster Abbey and had tea at Clarence House with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

He attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in the evening, at which Mr Trump praised the "eternal friendship" between the UK and US.

The Queen said the countries were celebrating an alliance which had ensured the "safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades".

The president's visit coincides with the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which the Queen, Mr Trump and other heads of state will attend at Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Donald Trump may deliver his messages hard and from the hip, firing off tweets and juicy quotes.

But the British political establishment is more subtle in the way it sends its diplomatic signals.

The Queen used her banquet speech to remind the president that the international institutions set up after the World War Two were designed to ensure the horrors of conflict were not repeated.

Theresa May presented Mr Trump with a framed copy of the Atlantic Charter, a set of principles centred on freedom and cooperation agreed by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1941 that formed the basis of many post-war institutions.

Both have been seen as a thinly-veiled message to a president who has repeatedly shown his disdain for multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and Nato.

Equally, the Queen in her own way has placed a small and utterly deniable distance from the president.

Her welcome has been warm and complete but she has not had Mr Trump to stay at Buckingham Palace - too much building work, naturally - nor will she attend his dinner at the US ambassador's residence - one for Prince Charles, you understand.

The decision by Downing Street to put Eton Mess on the menu for lunch has also been seen by some as a tongue-in-cheek warning for a president who arrived telling newspapers his favourite Old Etonian, Boris Johnson, would be an "excellent choice" to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

All deniable, all open to accusation of over-interpretation. But remember: these state visits are highly choreographed and nothing is said or done without reason.

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