Donald Trump and Theresa May agree immediate talks on post-Brexit trade deal

Prime Minister says this is the 'first step leading to a future trade deal with the US which could provide huge benefits to our economic muscle and will give businesses additional certainty and confidence'

 

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The UK and the US will begin work immediately on a new negotiating pact to pave the way for a full trade deal to come into force after Brexit.

The announcement, which will raise eyebrows in Brussels, follows Theresa May’s visit to the White House in which she and Donald Trump agreed to deepen relations.   

Giving new details about the visit, Downing Street said the story behind pictures of the pair arm-in-arm is that Mr Trump offered his hand to Ms May in a “chivalrous gesture” to help her down a ramp.

It also emerged Mr Trump said he wanted Ms May to be the first person he sees when he arrives on a state visit to see the Queen, and that he told an official to store away the White House menu card for their lunch together as a memento of their meeting.

At the lunch, the pair agreed the first step towards cementing a post-Brexit relationship would be a new trade negotiation agreement with high-level talks about it beginning immediately.

Ms May said: “This is the first step leading to a future trade deal with the US which could provide huge benefits to our economic muscle and will give businesses additional certainty and confidence.”

The pair agreed their governments would establish UK/US working groups to start scoping out what could be achieved before Brexit. 

Early moves could involve removing mobile phone roaming charges, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, removing red tape and removal of non-tariff barriers blocking UK exports of certain agriculture and food products.

They hope it will mean a new trade agreement is ready as soon as possible after the UK has formally left the EU. 

Mr Trump pledged to ensure trade arrangements that the UK currently has with the US through its EU membership would continue in place at the moment of Brexit, in a bid to provide certainty to businesses in both the UK and the US.

Images of the pair walking hand-in-hand spread across the globe as the two leaders sought to convince the world that relations between them and their nations were stronger than ever.

The meeting allowed Mr Trump to show he is not a pariah on the world stage, while the promise of a US trade deal gives Ms May leverage in Brexit talks with EU leaders, expected to take place later this year.

But with pictures of the awkward moment splashed across the front pages of newspapers, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “If you watch the video, they’re walking along and there is an unseen ramp.

“He offered his hand, which she took as they stepped down the ramp.”

She agreed that it was a “chivalrous gesture”, putting to bed rumours that Mr Trump had needed help down the ramp.

One outlandish claim doing the rounds was that the President is scared of stairs. 

The spokeswoman also revealed the President collects menus, explaining: “At the end of the lunch, he said that he always kept menu cards to remember significant moments.

“He gave the menu card to one of his members of staff and said ‘keep that safe, I had lunch with the British Prime Minister.’”

Mr Trump was then said to have repeated “several times” that it was really important to see Ms May first when he comes to the UK for the state visit.

The spokeswoman went on: “They [May and Trump] referred to the time that Thatcher took over Britain and the large challenges that she faced, and agreed that they had a shared admiration for her.

“Trump went on to say that he always looked up to Reagan and said that he wanted their relationship to be even better than that one.”

The conversation they had was described as “warm, free-flowing and unscripted” with the Brexit vote featuring heavily, although Nigel Farage was mentioned only in passing.

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