Trump raps May as she sells Brexit deal

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned the Brexit deal could un­der­mine UK-US trade just as the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter launched a na­tion­wide tour to whip up sup­port Tues­day for an agree­ment that has di­vided Bri­tain.

Theresa May headed to Wales and North­ern Ire­land, hours af­ter Trump said it seemed like a “great deal” for the EU that could block Bri­tain from strik­ing its own trade agree­ment with the US.

May has two weeks to con­vince the pub­lic, and, cru­cially, a di­vided par­lia­ment, be­fore a vote in the House of Com­mons on De­cem­ber 11 that risks end­ing in a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat and sink­ing the deal.

Trump warned that the terms of the deal might block a fu­ture trade deal be­tween Lon­don and Wash­ing­ton and sug­gested May had made a mis­take.

“Sounds like a great deal for the EU,” he said at the White House, adding, “we have to take a look at se­ri­ously whether or not the UK is al­lowed to trade.”

“As the deal stands, they may not be able to trade with the US and I don’t think they want that at all. That would be a very big neg­a­tive for the deal,” said the pres­i­dent, who is close to lead­ing Brexiteers in the UK.

“I don’t think that the prime min­is­ter meant that and hope­fully she’ll be able to do some­thing about that.”

May’s Down­ing Street of­fice hit back at Trump’s com­ments, say­ing that Bri­tain would be free to strike its own trade agree­ments out­side the bloc.

“We will have an in­de­pen­dent trade pol­icy so that the UK can sign trade deals with coun­tries around the world – in­clud­ing with the US,” a spokesman said.

“We have al­ready been lay­ing the ground­work for an am­bi­tious agree­ment with the US.”

The pound was down al­most half a per­cent against the dol­lar and lower also against the euro in the wake of Trump’s com­ments. Lon­don’s FTSE 100 shares index was up 0.1 per­cent.

May on Sun­day closed 17 months of com­plex talks with Brus­sels by seal­ing Brexit ar­range­ments with the 27 other EU heads of state and gov­ern­ment.

But this tor­tu­ous chap­ter on end­ing Bri­tain’s 45-year in­volve­ment in the Euro­pean project was just the be­gin­ning.

May runs a mi­nor­ity Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion par­ties, not to men­tion many of her own MPs, are against the deal.

Some Brexiteers think it keeps Bri­tain shack­led to Brus­sels while pro-EU law­mak­ers think the terms are worse than stay­ing in the bloc and want a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

Op­po­si­tion Labour Party leader Jeremy Cor­byn called the Brexit deal “an act of na­tional self-harm.”

May, who ducked tele­vised de­bates dur­ing the 2017 snap gen­eral elec­tion, chal­lenged Cor­byn to a TV con­test, nom­i­nally planned for De­cem­ber 9.

“I am ready to de­bate it with Jeremy Cor­byn be­cause I have got a plan. He hasn’t got a plan,” May was quoted as say­ing by The Sun news­pa­per.

A Labour spokesman said, “Jeremy would rel­ish a head to head de­bate with Theresa May about her botched Brexit deal and the fu­ture of our coun­try.”

When May de­fended the deal in par­lia­ment on Mon­day, more than an hour passed be­fore a Con­ser­va­tive voiced sup­port for the agree­ment.

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