Trump brings Brexit advice on state visit to troubled UK

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LONDON, June 3, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Britain will roll out the red carpet for
US President Donald Trump on Monday as he arrives in Britain for a state
visit already overshadowed by his outspoken remarks on Brexit.

Queen Elizabeth II will welcome Trump and his wife Melania to Buckingham
Palace, where they will be treated to a guard of honour, a private lunch and
later, a glittering state banquet.

But beneath the pomp and ceremony, Britain is in turmoil with Prime
Minister Theresa May due to step down within weeks over her handling of her
country’s exit from the European Union.

True to form, Trump ripped up the diplomatic rule book before he even
touched down by saying former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an
“excellent” choice to succeed May.

He also recommended May’s successor walk away from talks with Brussels,
refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.

The much vaunted UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over
different approaches to Iran, China and the Paris climate change accord.

Opposition politicians are boycotting the banquet over what London’s mayor
Sadiq Khan called Trump’s “divisive behaviour” and large protests are
expected across the capital.

But May and Trump are expected to emphasise the wider benefits of the old
alliance when they hold talks at Downing Street on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of
Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed
the course of World War II.

“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity
for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said
ahead of the visit.

– No-deal Brexit –

May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit
deal through parliament and twice delaying Britain’s EU departure.

She will formally quit as her Conservative party’s leader on Friday, but
will stay on while they find someone to replace her.

Three years after the referendum vote for Brexit, Britain remains divided
and anxious about its place in the world.

Trump recommended the new government “walk away” from talks with the EU if
it cannot get a good deal, and refuse to pay the œ39 billion (45 billion
euros, $50 billion) divorce bill May agreed.

In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, he emphasised that there
was “tremendous potential” for Britain to trade with his country after
Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist, denounced the president’s
“entirely unacceptable interference in our democracy”.

He earlier condemned putting on a show for a world leader who “rips up
vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and
misogynist rhetoric”.

– Strained special relationship –

Trump’s first official visit to Britain last year was overshadowed by
criticism of May’s approach to Brexit, as well as large demonstrations.

Protesters are planning another big turnout this week and are hoping to
once again fly their inflatable balloon showing Trump as a baby over the
streets of London.

But the president’s itinerary, which also includes a tea with heir to the
throne Prince Charles, will keep him away from the public.

He is not due to meet Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle, who
has previously been highly critical of Trump.

Asked about Markle’s comments in his weekend interviews, Trump said: “What
can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

May was the first foreign leader welcomed to the White House after Trump’s
election victory in November 2016, but their relationship has not always been
rosy.

They have clashed in the past over his migration policies, while Britain
still backs the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, both of
which Trump has abandoned.

Washington has also been putting pressure on Britain to exclude Chinese
tech giant Huawei from its 5G network over security concerns, suggesting it
might harm intelligence sharing.