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Theresa May: I am not afraid to speak frankly with Donald Trump

Theresa May has insisted she is "not afraid to speak frankly" with Donald Trump due to the strength of the UK-US special relationship.

The Prime Minister claimed Jeremy Corbyn would never have such a relationship with the US after the Labour leader urged her to guarantee she will not " sacrifice" parts of the NHS and public services to US companies ahead of this week's meeting with Mr Trump.

Mr Corbyn also congratulated the tens of thousands of people who marched in Britain last weekend to highlight women's rights and express their concerns about Mr Trump's " misogyny ".

The pair also clashed over Brexit and workers' rights after Mrs May opened Prime Minister's Questions by guaranteeing a white paper on the Government's Brexit strategy, following prolonged pressure from MPs.

Mr Corbyn told Mrs May: "The threat to workers' rights is there every day - six million earning less than the living wage, many people - nearly a million - on zero hours contracts with no protection being offered by this Government.

"What they're doing is offering, once again, the bargain basement alternative.

"Will you also take this opportunity today to congratulate the hundred thousand people who marched in Britain last weekend to highlight women's rights after President Trump's inauguration, and express their concerns about his misogyny ?

"Because many have concerns that in your forthcoming meeting with President Trump you will be prepared to offer up for sacrifice the opportunity of American companies to come in and takeover parts of our NHS or our public services.

"Will you assure the House that in any trade deal none of those things will be offered up as a bargaining chip?"

Mrs May highlighted the Government's record on zero hours contracts and increases to the minimum wage, adding: "On the issue of my visit to the United States of America, I'm pleased I'm able to meet President Trump so early in his administration.

"That is a sign of the strength of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States of America, a special relationship on which he and I intend to build.

"But can also say to the leader of the Opposition, I'm not afraid to speak frankly to a president of the United States.

"I am able to do that because we have that special relationship - a special relationship he would never have with the United States."

Mr Corbyn said Labour would "never allow Britain to be sold off on the cheap", and asked Mrs May: "How confident are you of getting a good deal for global Britain from a president who wants to put America first, buy American and build a wall between his country and Mexico?"

The Labour leader claimed the Supreme Court ruling against Mrs May's approach to Brexit signified the Government's "bad judgment", which he said results in corporate tax cuts being prioritised over spending on the NHS and social care.

Mr Corbyn said: "The bad judgment of threatening European partners while offering a blank cheque to President Trump.

"The bad judgment of wanting to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven.

"So will you offer some clarity and some certainty and withdraw the threats to destroy the social structure of this country by turning us into the bargain basement she clearly threatens?"

Mrs May defended her approach before mocking the Labour front bench.

She told Mr Corbyn: "You are the leader of the party - you can't even agree with your shadow chancellor (John McDonnell) about Brexit.

"The shadow chancellor can't agree with the shadow Brexit secretary (Sir Keir Starmer). The shadow Brexit secretary disagrees with the shadow home secretary (Diane Abbott).

"And the shadow home secretary has to ring up the leader and tell him to change his mind.

"You talk about us standing up for Britain, they can't speak for themselves - they'll never speak for Britain."

Mr Corbyn earlier asked Mrs May for details on when the Government's Brexit white paper would emerge, something the PM did not give a date for.

The Labour leader raised remarks from Nissan, in which the car manufacturer said it would want to "re-evaluate the situation" once the final Brexit deal is concluded.

Nissan announced last October it was investing in production of new Qashqai and X-Trail models at Sunderland after receiving Government assurances EU withdrawal would not affect the plant's competitiveness.

Mr Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister is threatening the EU that unless they give in to her demands, she will turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe."

He said it would "damage" jobs, living standards and public services as he asked Mrs May to rule out the "bargain basement threat".

The PM reiterated her expectation of a securing a "good deal" before quoting Sadiq Khan, the Labour London mayor and former MP, saying he does not believe the Government wants to weaken workers' rights.

Mrs May joked: "As usual with Labour, the right hand is not talking to the far left."


From Belfast Telegraph