UK prime minister launches charm offensive on arrival in Philadelphia, suggesting she will get on well with US president
Theresa May has said she believed she could a forge a strong personal relationship with Donald Trump, arguing that sometimes, opposites attract, as she set out how post-Brexit Britain could work with his country to shape the world.
On the eve of a much-anticipated visit to the Oval Office, the prime minister used a speech to Republican leaders in Philadelphia to pledge that the two countries have a joint responsibility to lead, but not as they did before.
May argued that a new special relationship would be nothing like the one between Tony Blair and George W Bush, which saw the pair collaborate in invading Iraq and Afghanistan. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are decisively over.
Despite the growing controversy in the UK and worldwide about Trumps remarks on the use of torture, as well as a series of other policies including the border wall with Mexico, May said she was determined to deepen links. She added: It is in our interests those of Britain and America together to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.
Speaking to journalists on the plane to Philadelphia, the prime minister was asked about the contrast in temperaments between the brash billionaire and a vicars daughter, when she meets Trump in the White House on Friday. Havent you ever noticed, sometimes opposites attract? she replied.
However, she also signalled that she would be prepared to deliver tough messages to the US president where their views differed, including on torture. On Wednesday, Trump had used his first TV interview as president to say he believed torture absolutely works and that the US should fight fire with fire.
Responding, May said: We have a very clear view: we condemn the use of torture, and my view on that wont change, whether Im talking to you, or talking to president Trump. She also insisted Britains policy on refusing to use intelligence gained through illegal methods remained unchanged.
The prime minister has arrived in the US with the Trump administration less than a week old and proving to be more chaotic and unpredictable than any in modern US history. Mexicos president, Enrique Pea Nieto, cancelled a scheduled visit to Washington next week to meet Trump, after the US president signed an executive order to move forward on construction of a border wall and repeated his claim that Mexico would be forced to pay for it.