The message from the EU is clear: there will be no improvement to the deal rejected by Britain’s parliament. And if talks fail? Donald Trump today makes an offer: that the United States, the UK’s no. 1 customer, is standing by with its own free trade deal. It needn’t take even a year, he says, as he’d go ‘all out’ so Britain can do a lot more trade with the world’s largest economy.
The EU’s deal, he says, is ludicrous anyway: £39bn is too much money. And why, he asks, would the British government agree to a two-year moratorium on signing free trade deals?
In an interview with the Sunday Times, he elaborates on the art of the deal. ‘If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away. Yes, I would walk away. If you don’t get the deal you want, if you don’t get a fair deal, then you walk away.’ He further rejected that the UK should pay the £39bn divorce bill ‘I would not pay — that is a tremendous number.’
If Brexit occurred with no EU trade deal, Trump is optimistic that UK-US trade can then be transformed — the UK already sold £112bn of goods and services to the US in 2017 (see chart below) and that was with the encumbrance of tariffs. Without those tariffs, he suggests, American demand for UK produce could surge. ‘We have the potential to be an incredible trade partner with the UK. We’re doing relatively little compared to what we could be doing with [the] UK…I think much bigger than [the] European Union.’
When asked if the trade deal could be concluded within a year, Trump said ‘We could work on it much faster, we could work on it very, very quickly… I would go all-out. It would be a great, a great advantage to [the] UK…One of the advantages of Brexit is the fact that now you can deal with the No. 1 country by far. We are the No. 1 economy in the world by far and when [the] UK isn’t prohibited from..making deals directly, the numbers they can do will be tremendous.’
So much for ‘back of the line’.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.