Donald Trump and Theresa May - Do opposites attract?

Theresa May arriving in the US Image copyright PA

As she made her way across the Atlantic, Theresa May joked with the press pack on her flight that "sometimes opposites attract".

A wisecracking way of trying to cover the question about how she and Donald Trump can work together - the reality TV star billionaire and the self-described hard working vicar's daughter.

Voters will decide for themselves how funny they find it.

But Number 10 has already invested a lot in the early days of this relationship.

Perhaps, that is in part due to the early embarrassment of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage's adventures in Manhattan. However, it is also certainly due to her conviction that whoever the US president is, a British leader needs to, and should, cultivate their friendship.

Downing Street sources say they have had more contact with the Trump team since its victory than any other country has - and the conversations between the two leaders have focused on how to develop their personal relationship and the bond between the two countries.

But even before the two politicians meet tomorrow in the Oval Office, Mrs May is trying to put forward serious arguments about Britain and America's relationship as the world changes at warp speed around the two countries - making a major foreign policy speech at a gathering of the Republican Party in Philadelphia just hours after she touches down.

No change on torture

It is plain to see that while she is deadly serious about creating an extremely close relationship with the new president, she will continue to disagree with him on some issues.

When repeatedly questioned about his view that torture works, the prime minister told us: "We condemn torture, I have been very clear, I'm not going to change my position whether I'm talking to you or talking to the president."

And crucially, she said guidance stating that UK security services cannot share intelligence if it is obtained through torture will not change, telling me: "Our guidance is very clear about the position that the UK takes, and our position has not changed."

Despite President Trump's very public doubts about Nato, she says he has already assured her on the phone that he is committed to the alliance.

A public restatement of that in the next 24 hours would no doubt be a political boon for her.

Image copyright AFP

While the prime minister is plainly uncomfortable with some of Mr Trump's positions, she also wants to emphasise some of the areas where they do agree - the "shared values" of looking out for "ordinary working class families".

In her speech to senators and congressmen tonight she will also emphasise how, in her view, Conservative values are Republican values.

The Republicans - the Tories' sister political party - are now in charge at all levels on Capitol Hill, as well as inside the White House. For the GOP and Mrs May's Conservative Party, patriotism, flag and family are not values to shy away from.

And despite the squeamishness, even in Tory ranks, about her eagerness to be seen alongside the president, the prime minister is unapologetic about her friendly stance.

When asked about appearing to be too close to the controversial new president, she said: "Donald Trump was elected president of the United States of America.

"The UK and the US have shared challenges, shared interests, that we can work together to deal with. We have a special relationship, it's long standing, it's existed through many different prime ministers and presidents."

A more different prime minister and president are hard to conceive. What they make of each other, and the relationship between our two countries, will affect us all.

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