Trump speaks on Mexico tariffs, Theresa May, new British prime minister | News Coverage from USA

Trump speaks on Mexico tariffs, Theresa May, new British prime minister

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he still plans to hit Mexico with tariffs next week, though he expressed hope that its government can avoid that fate by somehow stopping the flow of migrants into the United States.

While a 5% tariff on goods from Mexico is scheduled to be imposed Monday, Trump noted that U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting this Wednesday to try to negotiate a plan to resolve the dispute.

“Millions of people are flowing through Mexico – that’s unacceptable,” Trump said during a joint news conference in London with United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, an event in which he also discussed British political issues ranging from Brexit to criticism of his state visit.

Trump lobbed new accusations at Mexico over the influx of migrants trying to reach the U.S. border and sent mixed messages about his hopes for an agreement with Mexico that could ward off tariffs.

At one point, Trump said, “I think Mexico will step up;” at another, he said that “Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught” of migrants.

Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and other top officials are in Washington this week lobbying the Trump administration against imposing the tariffs – saying it will only weaken Mexico’s ability to address the migration crisis. The Mexican delegation is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

Trump announced last week, via tweet, that he would slap a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico starting June 10. He later added he would increase the tariff by 5 percentage points each month until “the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,” and that the tariffs could reach 25% by Oct. 1.  

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Martha Barcena, Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., told reporters on Monday that her government has already made sweeping efforts to stem the flow of migrants by cracking down on human smuggling and returning more than 80,000 migrants crossing through Mexico to their home countries.

Some Republicans also object to the threatened tariffs and have talked about congressional action to block them. Trump downplayed that possibility, saying he didn’t think Congress would interfere in the issue.

At the news conference in London, Trump also waded back into British politics of the United Kingdom on Tuesday, denouncing critical British politicians as “negative” forces and disputing the idea that his visit to London has drawn protests.

During an opening statement and in questions from reporters, Trump:

  • Said London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn should not be criticizing an American president who could do so much for the British people. Both Khan and Corbyn objected to Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom, citing his criticism of refugees and his harsh attitude toward western allies. Saying he did not know Corbyn, Trump was more critical of Khan. He said the London mayor has “done a poor job … He should be positive, not negative – he’s a negative force.”
  • Downplayed protests of thousands of people who have taken to London streets to protest Trump’s trip. Claiming that he has seen few demonstrators since he landed in London on Monday, Trump said: “A lot of it is fake news, I hate to say it … It was a very, very small group.” As he and May spoke, thousands of protesters gathered less than a mile away in Trafalgar Square to attack Trump’s visit. At one point, they chanted: “Say it loud! Say it clear! Donald Trump’s not welcome here!”
  • Praised Queen Elizabeth II as a “fantastic person – fantastic woman.” Again expressed support for British efforts to leave the European Union and talked about the race to replace May, who is scheduled to step down as prime minister later this week.
  • As he did during a pre-trip interview, Trump said former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson would make a good prime minister. While all but endorsing Johnson, Trump also had nice things to say about another official seeking the prime minister’s job, current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Trump said he did not know the other candidates.

Trump and May both promoted the idea of a new free trade agreement with the United Kingdom when it is no longer a member of the EU.

Trump’s state visit came en route to a trip to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Normandy landings that led the invasion of Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

Both Trump and May paid tribute to the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom, even as she and the American president have argued over some issues.

May said she has taken a “open approach” with Trump whenever they disagreed, such as over the Iran nuclear deal.

“We can also differ sometimes on how to confront the challenges we face,” she said.

 

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