Theresa May heads to South Africa to eye up post-Brexit trade deal – UK



Theresa May will commemorate more than 600 black South Africans who drowned in the English Channel a century ago as she begins a trade mission to the country.

The prime minister will present President Cyril Ramaphosa with the ship bell of the SS Mendi, which sank off the coast of the Isle of Wight in 1917 after it was unintentionally rammed by a Royal Mail packing boat.

Most of the 646 men on-board the Mendi were black South African military labourers who were being taken to the Western Front during the First World War.

The Royal Mail vessel – the SS Darro – did not deploy lifeboats after the collision and its captain was blamed for the tragedy by British authorities, but he was only suspended for a year.

The Mendi disaster has since become a symbol of the racial injustice of South Africa’s past.

In 1995, the Queen joined Nelson Mandela to unveil a memorial in Soweto to those who drowned.

SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 23: President Nelson Mandela leans forward as he speaks with Queen Elizabeth II at Avalon cemetery in Soweto, outside Johannesburg 23 March. The Queen unveiled a memorial to commemorate, 600 black soldiers who died when the SS-Mendi sank in the English Channel during World War I , in 1917. (COLOR KEY: Mandela wears dark blue suit). AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Queen unveiling the memorial with Nelson Mandela

And last year, the bell from the Mendi was mysteriously discovered by a BBC reporter, who was tipped off by an anonymous note that it was to be left on Swanage Pier in Dorset.

The bell will now be presented to President Ramaphosa at a ceremony in Cape Town on Tuesday, marking the start of a three-day visit by Mrs May focused on developing links with the growing economies of the African continent, during which she will also travel to Nigeria and Kenya.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a media conference at the end of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on July 27, 2018, as the heads of the BRICS group -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- met in Johannesburg for an annual summit dominated by the risk of a US-led trade war. - Five of the biggest emerging economies on July 26, stood by the multilateral system and vowed to strengthen economic cooperation in the face of US tariff threats and unilateralism. (Photo by The
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet Mrs May

She will be joined by a number of government ministers and a delegation of UK business leaders in an effort to boost post-Brexit trade links.

In addition to forging new trading relationships, Mrs May will also discuss how the UK can continue to support efforts to tackle instability on the continent.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: (AFP OUT) Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are scheduled to discuss a range of bilateral issues and hold a joint press conference later in the day. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Mrs May will also meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during her trip

In a speech in Cape Town, she is expected to say: “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.”

Theresa May delivers a keynote speech at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast
The prime minister is keen to lay the groundwork for multiple deals with countries in Africa

As well as representatives from the London Stock Exchange, Standard Chartered, the Scottish Whisky Association and JCB, the prime minister will also be joined by directors of small to medium-sized businesses.

Among them are Sure Chill from Cardiff, solar technology provider Northumbria Energy, and London-based start-up

On Wednesday, Mrs May will meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abjua, as well as victims of modern slavery in Lagos.

And on Thursday, she will travel to Nairobi to meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and visit British soldiers training troops from a number of African countries.

Ahead of his meeting with Mrs May, President Kenyatta will be in Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump, scheduled to take place on Monday.



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