PM bangs the drum for post-Brexit Britain as she heads for Africa in bid to boost trade ties outside the EU
- Theresa May is heading to Africa for three-day visit with a UK trade delegation
- The Prime Minister is due to visit South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya on the tour
- Mrs May hoping to bolster economic ties as Britain prepares to cut ties with EU
The PM (pictured at church in her Maidenhead constituency today) is taking a business delegation to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya on a whirlwind three-day tour
Theresa May will bang the drum for post-Brexit Britain this week as she heads for Africa in a bid to boost trade ties.
The Prime Minister is taking a business delegation to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya on a whirlwind three-day tour.
Amid mounting pressure over the deadlock in negotiations with the EU, Mrs May insisted the the trip demonstrates the UK’s ‘ambition’ on the global stage.
It is the first visit by a British PM to sub-Saharan Africa since 2013 – and no premier has been to Kenya in 30 years. Mrs May herself has only been to Africa once before, when she travelled to Tunisia as Home Secretary.
Mrs May said she was determined to unlock the ‘incredible potential’ of the continent.
But while Mrs May is eager to focus on shared economic interests and security issues, she will struggle to leave domestic problems behind as she returns to the political fray after a summer break.
The deep Tory rifts over Brexit were demonstrated again over the weekend when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab appeared to dismiss Treasury forecasts about the consequences of no deal.
Chancellor Philip Hammond was accused of renewing a ‘dodgy Project Fear’ last week when he suggested that failure to strike a trade agreement could cost the UK up to 10 per cent lower of growth over 15 years.
He highlighted the predictions in a letter to the Treasury Select Committee just hours after Mr Raab published a slew of documents designed to calm concerns about the consequences of negotiations collapsing.
In a thinly veiled rebuke to the Chancellor, Mr Raab told the Sunday Times: ‘I’m always chary of any forecast because most of them have been proved to be wrong.’
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Differences are also seemingly becoming more entrenched with Brussels.
The European Commission has been insisting the UK cannot be involved in the £8billion Galileo satellite network – despite having contributed £1.2billion of the funding.
The service aims to be up and running by 2020 and offer a rival to the US GPS system that powers smartphones and military systems.
Mrs May is now reported to have told officials to start work on Britain’s own, with £100million set to be spent on ‘mapping out how a sovereign satellite system would work’.
‘We still want to be part of the Galileo project but we have got to prepare for all eventualities,’ a Whitehall source told the Sunday Telegraph.
The funding is set to come from a £3billion pot for ‘no deal’ preparations that was allocated at last year’s Budget.
The trip will kick off in Cape Town, where Mrs May will hold talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa (pictured)
Senior aides to Mrs May said the Africa visit would seek to build on Commonwealth links, looking at ways to enhance trade and security cooperation.
There are also expected to be announcements on increasing Britain’s diplomatic presence in the region.
The trip will kick off in Cape Town, where Mrs May will hold talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa and present him with the bell from the Mendi – a ship that tragically sank in the Channel in 1917 killing over 600 troops, mainly black South Africans, who had been coming to join Allied forces.
In Nigeria the PM will meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and spend time in Lagos meeting victims of modern slavery – a cause that she has long campaigned on.
Mrs May will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya and see British soldiers training troops in the techniques needed to identify and destroy improvised explosive devices before they go to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured right last week) has issued a thinly-veiled rebuke to Philip Hammond after the Chancellor highlighted grim Treasury forecasts about the impact of no deal with the EU
Mrs May said: ‘Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy, and as longstanding partners this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together.
‘A more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests and its incredible potential will only be realised through a concerted partnership between governments, global institutions and business.
‘As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships.
‘This week I am looking forward to discussing how we can do that alongside Africa to help deliver important investment and jobs as well as continue to work together to maintain stability and security.
‘I am proud to be leading this ambitious trip to Africa and to become the first UK Prime Minister in over 30 years to visit Kenya.’
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