Theresa May will use her meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington DC this week to make the case for increasing free trade between Britain and America, Downing Street confirms.
Reports suggest Mrs May hopes to discuss the prospects of slashing tariffs on existing trade between Britain and the United States and making it easier for workers to move between the two countries.
The Prime Minister will become the first foreign leader to meet the US president on Friday and will press the case for a post-Brexit free trade agreement between the two countries.
Mrs May’s official spokeswoman told at regular Westminster media briefing: “You can expect the Prime Minister to be very clear during her US visit about the benefits of free trade and championing them and wanting to look at what more can be done to increase that, while also looking at how we address the concerns there have been about whether the benefits are being spread to as many people as they could be.”
The PM said on Sunday that Mr Trump was looking for “early” talks on a free trade deal despite concerns over his “America first” strategy.
Mrs May’s spokeswoman played down suggestions that the “America first” strategy set out in Mr Trump’s inauguration address last Friday might be an obstacle to a successful trade deal for the UK.
“With the leader of any country, you can expect them to look at how they are putting their country’s interest as the top priority on their list. We are clear that we will be pursuing Britain’s national interests.”
Another topic of negotiations will be the future of North Alliance. Mr Trump earlier this month described NATO as “obsolete” saying it was not “taking care of terror” and many member states were not living up to the target of spending 2% of GDP on defense, though he added that the alliance was still “very important to me.”
Mrs May’s spokeswoman said: “She will be clear about the importance of NATO as the bulwark of our defense and the need for the alliance to effectively counter the biggest threats of the day.”
Mrs May spoke by phone on Sunday with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and told him she would be taking these messages to Washington, the spokeswoman confirmed.
The Oval Office summit will also examine global issues such as tackling terrorism, the Syrian civil war and relations with Russia.
The Prime Minister will travel to the US on Thursday when she will become the first foreign serving head of state to address the annual congressional Republican retreat, when it gathers for its 30th anniversary in Philadelphia.
Her early meeting with the president will be seen as a major coup after an uneasy start to relations with Mr Trump following November’s election.