LONDON, U.K. - In a phone call with Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have urged the U.S. President to intervene in a major legal battle between two rival aircraft manufacturers.
May is said to have made the call to Trump at the request of the Democratic Unionist Party leader Foster, whose support May is reliant on in order to run a functioning government.
She urged Trump to intervene in the trade dispute between American aircraft manufacturer Boeing and its Canadian rival Bombardier that is threatening to destroy thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
Boeing has accused Bombardier of receiving unfair state support for its C-series plan, including a loan worth 113 million pounds given to it by the British government.
Later this month, the U.S.-based International Trade Commission is set to make an initial ruling on the case.
Analysts have predicted that if the Commission rules against Bombardier, the company's Belfast factory may be forced to close, with 4,500 jobs sets to be at risk.
May’s request comes as she has pledged to give the Northern Irish party 1 billion pounds in exchange for a "confidence and supply" deal where the DUP's 10 MPs will back the government on key legislation.
According to officials who were quoted in the Times report, the phone call was "constructive.”
Officials have however denied reports that ministers are worried that the dispute threatens to jeapordise a post-Brexit U.K.-U.S. free trade deal.
An unnamed government source said, "I think the Trump administration is taking some time to think this through.”
Last month, Tory minister and Business Secretary Greg Clark became involved in the dispute, after he visited Chicago last month to meet Boeing chiefs in an attempt to persuade them to drop the case.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said, "This is a commercial matter but the U.K. government is working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier’s operations and its highly skilled workers in Belfast. Ministers across government have engaged swiftly and extensively with Boeing, Bombardier, the US and Canadian governments. Our priority is to encourage Boeing to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement with Bombardier."