Casting her country as a partner with the U.S. in the “leadership of the free world,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May told the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress that a threatening post-Brexit world calls for a trade relationship more tightly linked than ever before.
“I’m delighted that the new administration has made a trade agreement between our countries one of its earliest priorities,” she said, speaking to Republicans gathered for a three-day policy retreat in Philadelphia.
Her audience of legislators responded to that statement with extended applause and interrupted her with cheers and applause on several other occasions.
May, who meets with President Donald Trump at the White House Friday, said a new bilateral trade deal “must work for both sides and serve both of our national interests.”
She spoke in terms that echoed Trump’s words, directed at those who feel left behind “by the forces of globalization, people of modest incomes, living in relatively rich countries like our own, who feel the global system of free markets and free trade is simply not working for them.”
She made no reference to the speculation back home, for which she has been pilloried, that she would be proposing to turn over Britain’s National Health Service to U.S. health care providers.
May also sketched a picture of a world “increasingly marked by instability and threats,” in which China and Russia are growing “more assertive.”
There is, she said, “nothing inevitable” about an “eclipse of the West,” evoking the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“When the world demands leadership,” she said, “it is this alliance of values and interests, this special relationship between two countries” that knows “the triumph of high achievement.”
Quoting Reagan, she said, “As the sleeping giant stirs, so let us renew the relationship that can lead the world toward the promise of freedom and prosperity.”