- From the sectionUK Politics
Theresa May has told US Republicans the UK and America must “stand up for our interests” but cannot return to “failed” interventionist policies.
She said: “The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.”
Mrs May’s visit to the US follows controversial comments by President Donald Trump about waterboarding.
The PM has said the UK condemns torture and that would not change.
Before her talks with Mr Trump, Mrs May travelled to Philadelphia to address Republican leaders at an event attended by the US president.
In her speech, Mrs May said: “It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.”
“This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.
“But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.
“And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighbourhoods too,” she said, to applause from her audience.
The issue of torture rose up the agenda after the president’s comments to ABC News on Wednesday.
Do opposites attract?
By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor
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.
He said: “When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis (IS) is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?
“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’.”
Mrs May has been urged to reject the comments about torture when she becomes the first world leader to meet him on Friday.
The UK PM has suggested that British intelligence sharing could be withdrawn from some operations with the US, if torture is reintroduced.
Under current rules, the UK military cannot use information obtained by torture or join operations where it might take place.
Mrs May said: “Our guidance is very clear about the position… and our position has not changed.”
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it implied that, were the US president to allow torture again, huge amounts of joint working would have to end.
Opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn said: “Theresa May must stand up for our country’s values when she meets Donald Trump and oppose his support for torture, which is inhumane, illegal and delivers false intelligence.”
Post-Brexit trade opportunities, security and intelligence co-operation and the future of Nato are likely to feature significantly in Mrs May’s talks with Mr Trump.
Present for the president
Theresa May will present Donald Trump, whose mother was born in the Outer Hebrides, with an engraved quaich, a Scottish artefact symbolising friendship.
The shallow bowls were traditionally used in Scotland from the 17th Century as drinking cups.
First lady Melania gets a hamper of produce from Chequers – containing apple juice, damson jam, marmalade, Bakewell tarts and “cranberry and white chocolate shorties”.
Mrs May has said her goal is to build on the historic relationship between the two nations, underpinned by their shared values and common interests.
But she has said she “won’t be afraid” to speak candidly to Mr Trump on matters where they disagree, having criticised remarks the businessman has made in the past about women and Muslims.
The government is keen to capitalise on the US president’s strong personal and business links to the UK and his support for Brexit – which he has described as a “smart move”.
Although the UK cannot begin to negotiate trade deals with the US or other countries until it leaves the EU, Mr Trump has said he wants a “quick” deal after that happens and the two leaders are expected to discuss future co-operation.
Ted Malloch, who has been tipped as a future US ambassador to the European Union, has told the BBC the outline of a free trade deal could be done in as little as 90 days.
But other economists have warned that although the UK and US are already significant trade partners, negotiating a bilateral agreement from scratch could take years and face many potential obstacles.
Mr Trump’s protectionist rhetoric in his inauguration speech and his apparent hostility to existing global trade deals – he has already withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and urged major reform of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – have raised question marks about his commitment to an equal partnership.