When U.K. PM Theresa May becomes the first world leader to meet with President Donald Trump today, she will likely try to stick to script. She’s expected to emphasize the need for the two countries to uphold “freedom, liberty, and the rights of man” in a discussion that will likely focus on the need for a U.S.-U.K. trade deal and cooperation in fighting terrorism. But some issues threaten to inject some awkwardness into May’s charm offensive:
Torture: In a recent interview with ABC News, Trump again voiced support for waterboarding, a technique widely viewed as torture. Trump said intelligence officials had told him that torture is effective. An MP this week asked May to reiterate Britain’s refusal to participate in that kind of treatment. To that, May said the U.K.’s position was clear: “We do not sanction torture and do not get involved in it. That will continue to be our position.”
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Women: Earlier this week, May gave a murky answer when asked if she would confront Trump about his track record with women, considering the millions of women who protested his rhetoric last weekend. “Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable I won’t be afraid to say that to Donald Trump,” she said. On Wednesday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour party pushed May further, asking her to “congratulate the 100,000 people who marched in Britain…and to express their concerns about his misogyny.”
Food standards: Another MP urged May to be wary of U.S. food exports as they factor into a potential U.K.-U.S. trade deal, claiming that the U.S. “wants to export genetically modified organisms, beef raised using growth hormones, and chicken meat washed with chlorinated water.” May replied that she will seek a trade deal that “will bring prosperity and growth to this country.”
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As she heads to the White House, May has reassured her colleagues that she won’t be afraid to speak her mind to Trump. If Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s experience is any indication, that tactic won’t go over well with the American president. After Nieto denied Trump’s claim that Mexico would pay for a border wall, the commander-in-chief threatened to cancel Nieto’s scheduled trip to Washington.