Theresa May set to fly out next week to meet Trump

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Theresa May will fly out to meet Donald Trump next week in secret plans to make her the first foreign leader to hold talks with the new US President.

The Telegraph can reveal that Mrs May hopes to fly out to Washington DC on Thursday – much earlier than previously thought.

The visit has been brought forward after Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s chief strategist, reached out to appeal for an early trip, according to sources.

Mrs May is expected to visit “for a couple of days” and hold talks with Mr Trump in the Oval Office, the presidential office in the White House.

Other cabinet ministers, who have been happy to let Mrs May “own” the relationship with the incoming president, are not expected to join her.

The plans have been secretly worked up over the last week, with officials across Whitehall involved in the final 48 hours before the inauguration.

Mr Trump’s team is said to want to embrace comparisons with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the former US and British leaders who developed a close relationship in the 1980s.

“They are really, really keen to capture the Reagan-Thatcher idea: A new populist in the White House and a strong woman in Number 10. They want to rekindle that as soon as possible,” a government source said.

The incoming president mentioned the Reagan-Thatcher relationship when he first talked to Mrs May after his shock election victory last year.

Mr Trump holds Mr Reagan, another Washington outsider who took the presidency, as his political hero and even borrowed his election slogan to “make America great again”.

While a date for the meeting is yet to be confirmed in Mr Trump’s diary, Number 10 and the new White House staff are seeking to arrange the trip as soon as possible.

Mr Trump’s team is said to favour a “business-like” visit which would not include a series of glamourous Washington DC events, according to a source familiar with the trip.

There are no plans to visit Camp David, the President's country retreat in Maryland which was often the base for talks between George W Bush and Tony Blair.

“The Trump team wouldn’t do all this ridiculous ceremonial stuff. It will be very business-like. There won’t be a lot of fanfare ceremonies and grand balls,” a source familiar with the plans said.

Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to America, is said to have been “hobnobbing” Mr Trump’s inner team for weeks in the hopes of arranging a trip. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, also discussed plans for a prime ministerial visit when he met key Trump figures in a visit earlier this month.

Mr Trump’s selection of Mrs May as the first foreign leader to host after taking office would be seen as marking a difference from Barack Obama, the outgoing president.

Mr Obama triggered a row after removing the bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and recently said Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, had been his “closest international partner”.

Trade is likely to be top of the agenda for talks, with Mr Trump saying recently he hopes a "fair” trade deal could be offered to Britain soon after taking office.

While the UK would not be able to sign a new trade deal until it is outside of the European Union – expected in mid-2019 – the two countries can hold scoping talks.

Government sources said Mrs May would also seek assurances over Mr Trump’s stance on Russia, Vladimir Putin and Nato.

2017.01.21 / 20:37
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