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May’s visit to the U.S. to put “special relationship” to the test

London’s Evening Standard newspaper featuring a photograph and story about U.S President-elect Donald Trump on the front page is displayed outside an underground station on November 9, 2016 in London. British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet Donald Trump shortly after he takes over as President, this spring and the meeting will be a litmus test for the ‘special relationship’ between the two mega economies.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper featuring a photograph and story about U.S President-elect Donald Trump on the front page is displayed outside an underground station on November 9, 2016 in London. British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet Donald Trump shortly after he takes over as President, this spring and the meeting will be a litmus test for the ‘special relationship’ between the two mega economies.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to call on United States President-elect Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration this spring, it was confirmed on Friday. The meeting — coming just months after her less than successful visit to India — will test the appetite of the two economic powers for a post-Brexit Britain.

The enduring partnership between the two countries — famously described many decades ago by Winston Churchill as the “special relationship” — has gone through peaks and troughs. The Obama administration prioritised relations with other European nations such as Germany, describing Chancellor Angela Merkel last year as his “closest international partner” over the past eight years. Attempts to forge a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) also reflected the U.S.’ eagerness to broaden its relations with Europe beyond Britain. However, with the future of TTIP looking decidedly dim, even before the U.S. election, and the election of Mr. Trump, 2017 will throw up new opportunities — and challenges — for the relationship.

May sees him positively

The May administration has been eager to distance itself from the stance of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who was less than complimentary about the then-Presidential candidate. He described as “divisive, stupid and wrong,” Mr. Trump’s proposal that there be a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “"It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship, who knows,” Mr. Trump told a U.K. television station last May. Britain and the U.S. would “remain, strong and close partners,” Ms. May said following Mr. Trump’s election. “Britain and the U.S. have an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise.” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged critics to refrain from prejudging the Trump administration, describing him as a “dealmaker” who stood to offer much to Britain.

Britain has already made a number of concessions to the U.S. when it comes to foreign policy: while Britain supported last year’s United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s expansion of settlements in occupied territories, she publicly criticised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech condemning the government of Benjamin Netenyahu, in a move that surprised the Obama administration.

Just how Trump views U.K.?

The position of the President-elect however remains unclear. While he, unlike his predecessor, was a big supporter of Brexit — repeatedly describing himself as “Mr Brexit” and drawing parallels between the forces that drove Brexit in the U.K. and his own rise to the power in the U.S. — his stance on a number of issues strongly contrasts with Britain, including on Russia and free trade: while Britain is eager to position itself as open to building trade relationship outside the European Union, Mr. Trump has adopted a protectionist tone on many issues. He has also injected the relationship with a level of unpredictability — suggesting via Twitter that Britain should consider appointing Nigel Farage as its Ambassador to the U.S.

Two senior advisors Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy visited the U.S. to meet with the President-elect’s team late last year, Bloomberg reported on Friday. 10 Downing Street confirmed that meetings of key staff had taken place. “We are pleased to have been able to make that happen and the Prime Minister looks forward to visiting the new President in the spring,” it said.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 6:11:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/May%E2%80%99s-visit-to-the-U.S.-to-put-%E2%80%9Cspecial-relationship%E2%80%9D-to-the-test/article16999855.ece

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