US president Donald Trump had his first state visit to the UK this week. Amid the ceremony and speeches, he discussed trade, climate policy and cybersecurity with prime minister Theresa May.
High on the agenda was the UK-US trading relationship if the UK leaves the EU. “The US is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the UK and US,” Trump said at a press conference on 4 June. He added it could be up to three times the value of trade today, and any deal would include the National Health Service.
Two days earlier, the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said in an interview that the deal would be “on the president’s desk day one the minute you leave”. But he raised hackles by saying farming and healthcare could be part of a deal.
For instance, in the US slaughtered chicken is washed in chlorine, and the import of these chickens is banned in the EU. Johnson said the UK wouldn’t necessarily have to accept chlorine-washed chicken, but reiterated his view that the practice is safe. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, sought to assuage concerns, saying the UK would keep control over regulation of the NHS and food standards for imports.
The US also used the visit to press its case for the UK to block Chinese technology firm Huawei from the country’s 5G networks. The US has previously claimed that Huawei’s involvement would threaten US-UK intelligence sharing, but Trump said such cooperation would not be at risk because “we are going to have absolutely an agreement on Huawei”.
May said she raised with Trump the UK’s support for the Paris climate accord. Several hundred academics wrote to the prime minister before the visit, urging her to challenge Trump on his planned exit from the climate accord in 2020. While any request by May is likely to have fallen on deaf ears, raising the subject was an opportunity for the government to advertise its bid to host UN climate talks next year.