Trump Dines With Lockheed Martin and Mars in Opulent Palace

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump met with business people from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean Thursday evening as his host Theresa May aimed to impress the U.S. president with Blenheim Palace, the opulent 300-year-old birthplace of World War II leader Winston Churchill.

“Mr. President, Sir Winston Churchill once said that ‘to have the United States at our side was, to me, the greatest joy,”’ May told Trump at the dinner, according to her office. “In 2018, that friendship is just as deep in our two nations’ commitment to our shared prosperity.”

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Fresh from a NATO summit in Brussels in which he demanded other Western nations double their defense contributions to 4 percent of gross domestic product, May is organizing the formal dinner -- tuxedo and black tie a must -- to talk up trade prospects with the U.S. following Brexit next year.

Yet the presence of U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. among the guests might be awkward for May, who faces a decision on whether to trim the U.K.’s commitment to take 138 of the company’s flagship F-35 fighter jet to help fund other military programs. Those could include a next-generation warplane needed to sustain engineering jobs at U.K. manufacturers including BAE Systems Plc.

Earlier in Brussels, Trump praised Lockheed by name. “I really learned, since being president, our equipment is so much better than anybody else’s equipment,” he said. “When you look at our companies, Lockheed and Boeing and Grumman, what -- the material -- the equipment that we make is so far superior, everybody wants to buy our equipment.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, which owns British high-street pharmacy Boots, was also expected to be represented at the dinner, alongside confectioners Mars Inc and cleaning products manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, according to a person familiar with the guest list. The menu was planned as Scottish salmon, beef and strawberries and clotted cream ice-cream.

Representatives of fund managers BlackRock Inc and Blackstone Group LP, as well as Arup Ltd and drinks manufacturer Diageo Plc were also due to be present, along with U.S. steel manufacturer Commercial Metals Co and conservative news provider Newsmax Media Inc.

Read more about Trump’s visit to the U.K.

The 2,000 acres of grounds at Blenheim Palace are likely to muffle the sound of protesters who planned to gather at the gate.

When he returns to London after dinner, Trump will be greeted by a wall of sound, as protesters outside the U.S. ambassador’s residence in north London are set to play a loud recording of immigrant children crying for their parents.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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