The first foreign leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration spoke in D.C. on Friday, January 27th. Theresa Mays assumed the prestigious position of the UK’s Prime Minister after the UK’s unforeseen Brexit vote.
The UK was once a member of the European Union. The European Union is an organization of European states that cooperate with one another to achieve stability and peace among its members. The EU had initiated a single-currency, the Euro, in order to create a unified European free market. Another stance the EU has taken is to establish an open border policy, which allows people to travel between EU states without a security evaluation.
Economic and security concerns arise from initiatives such as these, especially in light of the increasing threat of terrorism. As a result, 52 percent of the votes that were cast this past June favored Brexit, or a withdrawal from the EU. Those in favor of Brexit believe that business will prosper with less regulations, immigration is a concern that should be addressed, and trade deals should be secured with countries outside of Europe. However, the other 48% of the population believe that their economy will shrink as a result of Brexit since they have little to no trading access with EU members and many manufacturers will likely leave the UK in order to have access to the European market.
Many do not connect Brexit to U.S. politics, but the two are undoubtedly intertwined. When President Trump was elected, many people viewed it as an “Amerexit.” The newly elected leader withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership within the first week of holding office. This withdrawal symbolized a new path for America. A path in which the country would become economically and politically less dependent on other countries, much like the route chosen by the UK post-Brexit.
However, although the President withdrew the country from the TTP, he confirmed in his meeting with Theresa May that he supports the United States’ role in the NATO agreement. “Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed that you’re 100 percent behind NATO,” reveals Prime Minister May during the press conference. “But we’re also discussing the importance of NATO continuing to ensure it is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.” This statement was a relief to many since President Trump had made comments that alluded to the possibility of the United States withdrawing from the alliance. In March of 2016, Trump had an interview with ABC News. During this interview he stated, “We pay so much disproportionately more for NATO. We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them. And we’re paying the majority of the costs.”
His administration has been advising him this week. President Trump has mentioned that his position on torture is different than that of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and that he is not going to implement his plans for torture after speaking with him. Perhaps his administration had advised him that it is best for the United States to remain in the NATO alliance. The NATO alliance does provide a handful of countries to come to the aid of its members in times of war.
While NATO and free trade were large components of the press conference, other major parts of it include sanctions on Russia and the U.S-Mexico relationship.
During the press conference, Trump made it clear that his position on Russia remains undecided. After his meeting with Putin, he will decide on whether or not he will work with him to “go after ISIS together.” On the other hand, Mays wants to continue the sanctions that the UK imposes on Russia. “We have, as far as the UK is concerned on sanctions for Russia in relation to their activities in the Ukraine, we have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk Agreement fully implemented. We believe the sanctions should continue until we see that Minsk Agreement fully implemented and we’ve been continuing to argue that inside the European Union.”
In regards to the U.S.-Mexico relationship, President Trump told the press that he is working toward negotiations with President Enrique Peña Nieto. “We have a really — I think a very good relationship, the president and I. And we had a talk that lasted for about an hour this morning. And we are going to be working on a fair relationship and a new relationship. But the United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies, and millions and millions of people losing their jobs.” Mays did not make comments on the issue since she considered it a domestic issue. “As the President himself has said, the relationship of the United States with Mexico is a matter for the United States and Mexico.”
This joint press conference is a step toward greater cooperation and communication between the United States and one of its closest allies. President Trump continues to lead the United States through times of substantial controversy.