Dame Helena Morrissey, Legal & General’s head of personal investment, was among 150 guests at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, a week ago to dine out on smoked salmon, steaks and strawberries at the function hosted by Theresa May.
She told Sky’s Ian King Live it was a “slightly surreal” experience with a lot of “waiting around” attended by few other women – though that likely reflected, she added, the lack of women in senior business roles in the UK rather than any protest against the president.
Donald Trump’s four-day trip was marred by demonstrations against US policy on several fronts, with UK firms also battling the effects of US trade tariffs on steel and aluminium.
It also proved controversial in that he was forced to backtrack on comments to the Sun newspaper that the PM’s Brexit blueprint would kill off a trade deal with the US after the UK leaves the EU.
Dame Helena said of the reception and dinner at Blenheim Palace: “I went because it’s very important that we engage.
“We engage with companies that we don’t agree with… it’s important we engage with politicians and countries – particularly the US which is such an important trading partner for the UK.”
Dame Helena said she understood why there were protests but said it was important to talk rather than hope differences “just go away”.
She also said she was struck by “small steps” in the president’s speech when he referred to “humankind” as opposed to ‘mankind’ under pressure from Melania Trump.