Business leaders will sit down for breakfast with US President Donald Trump this morning as part of a bid to strengthen transatlantic relations, as fears over an impending global trade war continue to mount.
Representatives from 10 leading companies – five from the UK and five from the US – will break bread at St James’s Palace alongside Trump, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Chief executive officers and senior representatives from BAE Systems, Glaxosmithkline, National Grid, Barclays, Reckitt Benckiser, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, Bechtel and Splunk are expected to attend.
May, seated next to BAE Systems’ chairman Sir Roger Carr, is expected to say the UK-US trade relationship “is a great partnership, but one I believe we can make greater still”.
She will say the two countries should work together on “keeping markets free, fair and open, and keeping our industries competitive,” calling for a “bilateral free trade agreement, with broader economic co-operation” and continued collaboration.
The business breakfast comes as global markets continue to take fright at Trump’s escalating trade war, with the S&P 500 down more than 200 points (seven per cent) in the last month.
Trump arrived in the UK yesterday morning and immediately sparked a war of words with London mayor Sadiq Khan, describing him as a “stone-cold loser” and making fun of Khan’s height in tweets sent minutes before Air Force One touched down in Stansted.
Khan hit back, releasing a video strongly criticising Trump. He said: “President Trump, if you are watching this, your values, and what you stand for, are the opposite of London’s values and the values of this country.”
Large protests are expected in central London today.
Today’s roundtable is also due to be attended by chancellor Philip Hammond and international trade secretary Liam Fox, along with several high-ranking US advisers.
It is understood that topics including a post-Brexit trade deal and the UK’s approach to Chinese tech firm Huawei will be discussed.
Miles Celic, chief executive of lobby group The City UK, said the financial and professional services ties between the UK and US have “long been among the most important in the world”.
The President gathered with members of the royal family for a state banquet at Buckingham Palace last night.
Reflecting on the D-Day landings, the 75th anniversary of which are marked this week, Trump said “the bond between our nations was forever sealed in that great crusade”.
In her speech, the Queen spoke of “the immense importance that both our countries attach to our relationship.”