LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May told United States President Donald Trump Thursday evening that Brexit provided a chance for a new bilateral trade deal that would spur growth and employment.
During a gala dinner at Blenheim Palace attended by Trump and scores of business leaders, May said the UK’s upcoming withdrawal from the European Union – scheduled to take effect in March 2019 – offered numerous opportunities to further boost trade links between the two allies.
“Now, as we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more. It’s an opportunity to reach a free-trade agreement that creates jobs and growth here in the UK and right across the United States,” May said.
“It’s also an opportunity to tear down the bureaucratic barriers that frustrate business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic,” she added.
Trump, who is making his first official visit to the UK since taking office last year, landed in London earlier Thursday along with his wife, Melania.
The couple were then welcomed with a military ceremony upon their arrival in the evening at Blenheim, located about 95 kilometers (60 miles) from the British capital.
Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson were among those in attendance at the dinner.
Speaking at the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, May recalled that the wartime prime minister once said that having the US at the UK’s side during World War II was “the greatest joy.”
She emphasized that the “spirit of friendship and cooperation” between the two countries has a “long and proud history” and recalled the UK’s major role as an investor in the US economy.
“The UK is the largest investor in the US, providing nearly a fifth of all foreign investment in your country. We invest 30 percent more than our nearest rival, more than 20 times what China invests. And more than France and Germany combined,” May said.
“That all means a great deal more than simply numbers in bank accounts. It means jobs, opportunities and wealth for hardworking people right across America,” the prime minister added.
Trump’s arrival in the UK on Thursday was met by a wave of protests, with many demonstrators saying the US president’s policies are racist, sexist and xenophobic.
He will stay in the UK over the weekend and then travel to Finland for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.