It is unlikely to be a meeting of minds, but it will certainly be a meeting of huge significance. Both the President and the PM have spoken in recent weeks about the importance of the special relationship and of their desire to strengthen it.
Trump, who has huge affection for the UK, has taken to calling May “my Maggie” – in reference to the relationship enjoyed between Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
While it must be acknowledged that Trump is no Reagan, the importance that the new President attaches to America’s relationship with the UK should be seen as a welcome diplomatic asset to a PM embarking on the process of exiting the European Union.
Trump has made no secret of the fact that he thinks other EU member states could (and indeed, should) follow the UK through the exit door, but May is rightly singing a different diplomatic tune.
Her excellent speech last week made clear that it is in the UK’s interests for the EU project to survive and thrive.
She cannot afford to antagonise EU leaders with Trumpian talk of their project being in demise. The challenge for May will be in balancing her relationship with EU leaders still wounded by our departure and a President who revels in the prospect of further continental deterioration.
Nevertheless, Trump has come at the right time for May and there is no doubt that a strong ally in the White House should provide much needed backup during Brexit.
Key to this new relationship will be Ted Malloch, the Oxford academic and entrepreneur tipped to serve as Trump’s ambassador to the EU. Yesterday Malloch, a eurosceptic and passionate believer in free-market economics, said that Trump’s “high energy” could ensure a swift US-UK trade deal, which would “send a signal that the US is behind Great Britain in its hour of need.”
He also dismissed the “absurd proposition” that the UK cannot commence trade talks before formally exiting the EU in 2019.
May should take full advantage of such diplomatic capital. She’s going to need friends during the Brexit negotiations, and it seems she’s already found some in the new US administration.