Nov 26, 2018

Trump slams Theresa May's Brexit deal as "great for the EU"

Trump and Theresa May during a state visit in July. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

With U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May working desperately to sell her Brexit deal to a skeptical Parliament, President Trump slammed it today as "a great deal for the EU" that could keep the U.K. from securing a trade deal with the U.S.

Why it matters: Trump is unpopular in the U.K., but his comments could deepen what, from May's perspective, is an unwelcome debate over the U.K.'s ability to negotiate trade deals under her plan. Her deal won the approval of all 27 EU leaders over the weekend, but it doesn't currently appear to have enough votes to pass through the House of Commons.

Sebastian Payne, political editorial writer for the Financial Times, emails from London with his take on what's next:

  • "If May's withdrawal agreement is not passed into British law by March 2019, the UK will crash out of the bloc and revert overnight to trade on basic World Trade Organization terms. Most ministers privately believe this would lead to both a recession and total chaos."
  • "But despite the threat of a no-deal Brexit, Remainers and Leavers are lining up to oppose her compromises: around 90 Conservative MPs have said they will vote against it. Combined with the opposition Labour Party and the Scottish nationalists, it is looking nigh impossible for May to pass the deal into law without a significant change in opinion."
  • "May is therefore going over the heads of MPs and trying to sell her deal to the country as what is in 'the national interest.' She hopes that Britons are bored of Brexit and simply want it all to be over. She might be right. But the views of Remain and Leave-supporting MPs are hardening and she has just two weeks to change their minds."

The bottom line: "There is no obvious majority in Parliament for any Brexit deal. There is also no majority for a no-deal Brexit. When the first critical vote is held — 11th December —  we will find out if MPs feel as strongly as they presently claim about May’s compromise. They'll have a chance to change their minds if May tries again with a slightly tweaked version of her deal in late December or early next year. Time, however, is running out," writes Payne.

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