President Donald Trump flies into Britain on Thursday for talks with the leader of the United States’ closest ally in Europe and tea with Queen Elizabeth, against a backdrop of protests and what he described as the country’s turmoil over Brexit.
Fresh from a NATO summit where Trump chided Germany and other European nations for failing to spend enough on defense, British Prime Minister Theresa May is hoping his trip will boost the close ties between their two nations and help in forging a future free trade deal.
“There is no stronger alliance than that of our special relationship with the U.S. and there will be no alliance more important in the years ahead,” May said in a statement.
Trump’s trip coincides with a tumultuous week for May when two senior ministers resigned in protest at her plans for trade with the European Union after Britain leaves next March.
The president has already waded into the debate, saying Britain was “in somewhat turmoil” and that it was up to the people if she stayed in power.
He also said he might speak to Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign secretary over May’s plans for a business-friendly Brexit which was agreed by her cabinet last Friday only after two years of wrangling.
Trump has long been a Brexit supporter and has expressed enthusiasm for a wide-ranging trade deal with Britain after it leaves the EU, something heralded by eurosceptics as being one of the great benefits of exiting the bloc.
“Our trade and investment relationship is unrivalled – we are the largest investors in each other’s economies,” May said. “This week we have an opportunity to deepen this unique trading relationship and begin discussions about how we will forge a strengthened, ambitious and future-proof trade partnership.”