President Donald Trump said he wanted a “very, very substantial trade deal” between the US and the UK after Brexit during a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Tuesday, even as protestors chanted anti-Trump slogans nearby.
Trump addressed a breakfast meeting with business chiefs alongside May at the start of the second day of his three-day state visit to the UK during which he asked the outgoing British Prime Minister to “stick around” and see a new trade deal through.
“I think we will have a very, very substantial trade deal. This is something you want to do and my folks want to do. Stick around. Let’s do this deal,” Trump said.
May, who is set to formally resign as British PM on Friday, responded by agreeing there were “huge opportunities” for Britain and the US to work together in the future.
“It is a great partnership, but I think a partnership we can take even further. Of course, that is with a good bilateral trade deal,” she said.
The meeting of the chiefs of leading British firms including BAE Systems and Barclays and American firms including Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs, senior ministers and officials took place at St. James’ Palace in London in a bid to boost trade links.
Trump was then driven to Downing Street for his bilateral talks with May, by which time his motorcade passed by the giant balloon effigy of the US President depicted as an angry baby as it took to the skies above Parliament Square.
Demonstrators were restricted from marching past Downing Street, where the talks were taking place, but hundreds of protestors gathered nearby at Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square to protest against Trump’s divisive views.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who boycotted the formal state banquet for the US President on Monday evening, addressed the main protest rally at Trafalgar Square.
“We represent diversity and inclusion at this demonstration,” Corbyn told the crowds amid cheers.
“I am sad that on the occasion of Eid, our Mayor of London [Sadiq Khan] has been attacked by the President,” he said, adding that the demonstration was a sign of support for peace, justice and disarmament in solidarity with all those the US President had attacked around the world.
He was joined by members of other political parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, as similar demonstrations took place in Birmingham, Stoke, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chester, Leicester, Oxford and Exeter.
Trump courted controversy even before he landed in the UK for the state visit on Monday when he took to Twitter to attack Khan as a “stone cold loser”.
The London Mayor in turn has been extremely critical of the US President’s anti-Muslim views and objected to all the pomp and ceremony associated with a state visit being accorded to him.
“I think those visits should be reserved for leaders who have done something and deserve that. I think it sends the wrong message to be seen to condone some of the things this President has said and done,” Khan said.
On Monday, Trump was welcomed by Queen Elizabeth II, who hosted the customary state banquet for him and wife Melania at Buckingham Palace.
The 93-year-old said the countries were celebrating an alliance which had ensured the “safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades”, as Trump described the Queen as a great lady and praised the “eternal friendship” between the two countries.
The visit coincides with the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II, which the Queen, Trump and other heads of state will attend at Britain’s port city of Portsmouth on Wednesday.
May presented Trump with a framed copy of the Atlantic Charter, a set of principles centred on freedom and cooperation agreed by Britain’s war-time PM Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1941 that formed the basis of many post-war institutions. Both have been seen as a thinly-veiled message to Trump, who has spoken out against multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Some contentious issues around climate change and the UK’s plans to continue working with Chinese telecom major Huawei, which the US has distanced from, were on the agenda of the talks, which were also attended by senior members of May’s Cabinet including foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.
According to some reports, Trump has also had some conversations with Britain’s prime ministerial hopefuls including frontrunner Boris Johnson – whom he has previously endorsed as someone who will do a good job, and environment minister Michael Gove.