Donald Trump hopes to emulate Thatcher and Regan’s relationship with Theresa May
As part of the Prime Minister’s first meeting with Mr Trump in Washington, she will be invited to unveil the bust as a symbol of the US-UK’s special relationship.
She had planned to travel to America next month, but the visit is being rushed through after a Whitehall source said both sides wanted “to capture the Reagan-Thatcher idea: A new populist in the White House and a strong woman in Number 10”.
Mrs May is the first world leader to be invited to meet Mr Trump since he became president.
The pair will have informal discussions about a free trade deal between the two countries.
Other subjects for discussion are set to include “burden sharing” and the President’s intention to demand all Nato countries commit to spending two per cent of GDP on defence, as well as the prospect of a new “passporting” deal allowing British businesses to provide a range of financial services to the US while being based and regulated by UK authorities.
Yesterday Mrs May said she was “confident” of striking a trade deal despite Mr Trump’s “America First” strategy, saying: “We can look at areas even in advance of being able to sign a formal trade deal.
The special relationship is back
Source close to Donald Trump
“Perhaps we could look at barriers to trade at the moment and remove some of those barriers to open up that new trading relationship.”
She said she would also hold “very frank” talks about other subjects.
Describing what Mr Trump had in mind for the visit, a source close to the President said: “She will be invited to unveil the bust as a sign that the special relationship is back, front and centre on a scale not seen since Maggie.
Donald Trump becomes 45th U.S. PRESIDENT
Fri, January 20, 2017
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States will mark the commencement of the four-year term of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice President. A public ceremony will be held on Friday, January 20, 2017, on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
1 of 40
US President Donald Trump points to the stands as he walks with his wife Melania during the Inaugural Parade.
“Trump already refers to her as ‘My Maggie’ but the question remains whether he is a Ronnie to her?”
In his first telephone call with her hours after he won the Presidential race in November, Mr Trump is said to have talked of his hope of reviving the close UK-US relationship that dominated the West throughout the 1980s.
According to Downing Street sources, Mr Trump made it clear he is keen to have a good personal relationship with Mrs May and used Reagan-Thatcher as his “reference point”.
Mrs May has said that although she does not want to “emulate” models from the past, she is confident they can have a “very special relationship”.
Insiders fear the pair may not hit it off because of differences in their personalities and temperament. “Trump is not one for dancing around handbags,” the source said.
President Trump wants the Prime Minister to unveil the bust of Churchill in the White House
“If he likes you, he likes you but if he doesn’t he will not hold back in letting you know.”
The behaviour of Mrs May’s top aides Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, who were dispatched to New York to build bridges with Mr Trump’s transitional team before Christmas, has already been raised at the highest levels in Whitehall.
Before they took up posts as Mrs May’s joint-chief of staff both publicly criticised Mr Trump on Twitter. “Trump has a long memory,” the source said.
“Their behaviour has been raised during a meeting at Downing Street as a potential problem and it was advised they address it before the first meeting between the Prime Minister and the President.”
Downing Street’s frosty attitude towards former Ukip leader Nigel Farage could also prove problematic.
The source said: “Trump just doesn’t get why they refuse to use Nigel Farage – someone he now regards as a close personal friend – as a go-between. It is highly likely that this will come up when the pair have their first meeting.”
The pair will have an informal discussion about a free trade deal
Mr Farage will be made a “close but unofficial adviser” to the 45th President.
Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, confirmed the news at a party thrown for Mr Farage on the top floor of the five-star Hay Adams hotel overlooking the White House on Thursday night by multimillionaire Ukip donor Aaron Banks.
Mr Trump did not attend. The move will cause consternation in Downing Street which has repeatedly tried to downplay the signifi cance of Mr Farage to Mr Trump, describing him as an “irrelevance”.
However, unofficially it is understood that Mr Farage has had backchannel talks with ministers including Brexit boss David Davis, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan.
Shortly after he won the US Presidential election, Mr Trump said Mr Farage would be a good British ambassador to Washington.
Mr Bryant said: “There is an opportunity for him to work directly with the President. We call it ‘close but unofficial’. “I think you will see that type of relationship between Nigel Farage and the President where he will turn to Nigel for advice about Great Britain.”
Mrs May said she was confident in signing a free trade deal despite Trump’s ‘America First’ policy
Mr Bryant continued: “I don’t want to speak for the President but I know that he has a great deal of trust in Nigel Farage and I think he is going to turn to him as an adviser and there would be none better.”
Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain’s wartime leader, returned the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the Oval Office within hours of being sworn in on Friday.
Barack Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in 2009 soon after he took over the presidency. Foreign Secretrary Boris Johnson controversially wrote last year, while serving as Mayor of London, that Mr Obama’s decision to send the bust back to the British Embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.
Mr Johnson suggested it might have been linked to Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.
Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honorary US passport, in his private quarters.
But in a symbolic gesture of his intention to revive the close transatlantic bond enjoyed by Thatcher and Reagan, Mr Trump will ask Mrs May to formally unveil the bust.