Trump Said He Declined Meeting With Corbyn, Warned Mexico Tariffs Would Take Effect Next Week

Update: By all accounts, President Trump and Theresa May's final joint press conference was a success. Both sides discussed the nature of the 'special relationship between the US and the UK.

Trump reiterated that the US is committed to striking a "phenomenal" trade deal with the UK as it prepares to leave the EU, saying the deal has "tremendous potential" for the US and UK to improve trade by two to three times.

Of greater interest was the Q&A, where the British and American press corp were granted two questions each.

May

In his response to a question about his attacks on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Trump described the protests in London as "very small" and "fake news", implying that those who had turned out were put there for political purposes. Asked whether she agreed with Trump about Khan being a "stone cold loser," May declined to answer.

Asked about a possible meeting with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Trump said he decided not to meet with Corbyn, whom he described as a "negative force" in British politics. Afterward, Corbyn said he was "ready to engage" with Trump, a presumptuous statement that suggests Corbyn is already preparing to succeed the next Tory leader at No. 10.

Trump scoffed when asked about the possibility that Republicans might join with Democrats to block his tariffs on Mexican goods. The president cited his 90%+ popularity among Republicans, and said anybody who opposed his plan would be "mistaken" and "foolish."

It's "more likely" that tariffs will take effect next week

Brexit can and should happen, Trump said. Meanwhile, he added that the UK and US had reached a deal on Huawei that will allow them to work out their differences. A spokesman for May's office later said that the prime minister had told Trump that discussions within the British government were ongoing.

The two leaders will travel to France tomorrow to commemorate the 75 anniversary of D-Day.

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President Trump and outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May are meeting at No. 10 Downing Street as we speak, and in keeping with both the solemn timing of the occasion (Tuesday is the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre) and the issues of the day (the US-China trade war), Trump is expected to make a last-ditch lobbying effort to try and convince the UK to prohibit Huawei equipment from being incorporated into its 5G network, according to Bloomberg and the AP.

At the urging of the US, the UK has become somewhat more wary of Huawei, though the biggest steps have been taken by the private sector, with the UK's largest wireless networks dropping Huawei phones from their 5G launch, in part to comply with the US 'blacklisting' of the Chinese telecoms giant.

Last month, the Trump administration placed Huawei and dozens of its affiliates on a 'black list'. The US also issued a separate order banning American telecoms companies from using foreign-made telecoms equipment that could threaten national security (though both orders have been suspended for 90 days).

May

A few months back, the UK's cyber-security chiefs had concluded that the risks posed by Huawei could be managed. However, more recently, officials have highlighted serious flaws with Huawei equipment, suggesting that at least some restrictions will be imposed.

Before the meeting, May's spokeswoman told reporters that the government is still reviewing its policy on Huawei, and will ultimately make a decision based on "hard-headed technical assessments."

During an interview with the BBC on Monday, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said the UK is "sensitive" to Huawei's concerns: "We take careful notice of everything the US says on these issues."

UK Security Minister Ben Wallace said the British government hasn’t made a final decision, though the UK believes in "fair play" and would like to give the company a chance.

Washington launched a lobbying campaign late last year to try and convince its European allies to shut Huawei out of 5G broadband networks, arguing that the company represents a national security threat by creating an opening for the Chinese MSS to spy on citizens and governments. And, as the New York Times pointed out, there's also concern that Huawei would have leverage to shut down communications networks should there be a conflict with the West.

May’s office also said the two leaders would discuss relations with Iran and the nuclear deal as the administration escalates its military posturing in the Persian Gulf in response to an unspecified Iranian threat. The UK and the other European signatories to the Iran deal have urged the US to reconsider abandoning the deal, and even threatened to find a workaround allowing them to continue trading with Iran in violation of US sanctions. 

Chinese officials were already on tenterhooks on Tuesday, with Global Times editor Hu Xijin, a mouthpiece for the ruling Communist Party, accused Secretary of State Mike Pence of being "keen on destroying China's development capability" after Pence tweeted that the US would honor the victims of Tiananmen Square.

That tweet was likely only a taste of what's to come. Later, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to give what has been described as a "hawkish" policy speech on China, which will focus on the country's human rights record - something that is guaranteed to incense the Chinese leadership at a time when the prospects for a trade deal are dwindling.