May's meeting with Trump: a collision of contrasting world views

The PM’s visit could be seen as a diplomatic coup

BY: Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
The Guardian

The PM’s visit could be seen as a diplomatic coup, but her vision of a free-trading Britain could crash into ‘America Fibut her vision of a free-trading Britain could crash into ‘America First'

Theresa May travels to the US on Thursday to try to forge a personal and political relationship with the least predictable and, in European terms, most unpopular US president in modern times.

For all the British diplomatic pleasure that their prime minister is once again the first foreign leader through the door of a newly elected president, as John Major managed in the case of Bill Clinton in 1993, there will be wariness in Downing Street. For the first time since the second world war, the US appears to have a president who displays indifference to supporting his allies or shoring up an alliance framework.

No 10 will seek to focus on the prospect of a mutually beneficial post-Brexit US-UK free trade deal, but even this will only serve to highlight the glaring inconsistency between Donald Trump’s broader ‘America first’ protectionism and May’s vision of a free trading global Britain.

Not surprisingly, there are no plans as yet for a joint press conference. Trump’s public performances have so far the quality of an unguided missile, veering off into unexpected directions, not dissimilar to the British independent nuclear deterrent.