Europe News

Theresa May had a plan in place for Brexit. Then Donald Trump landed 

Key Points
  • Trump’s latest remarks reflect analysts’ views earlier in the week that the U.S. leader could bring further turmoil to Theresa May.
  • A spokesman for the prime minister said Friday morning that May is looking forward to sitting down with Trump and talking through her Brexit negotiating stance.
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Trump blasts British PM Theresa May's Brexit plan, saying it could threaten US-UK trade truce

President Donald Trump will meet with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May again on Friday — in what could prove to be an awkward day of discussions after the U.S. president blasted her plans for Brexit.

Trump told The Sun newspaper that May has completely ignored his advice when it comes to the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. The U.K. leader announced last week that she will try to keep the closest possible trade links with the EU even after the country stops being a member of the bloc. In an interview published late Thursday with the tabloid right-wing publication, Trump revealed his dissatisfaction with her proposals.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said about a potential trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K.

Both sides of the Atlantic have started working toward a trade agreement to be signed once the U.K. leaves the EU — but the comments from the U.S. president suggest that deal will very much depend on the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU.

“I would have done it much differently,” Trump said about Brexit. “I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” he said in the same interview.

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Trump: May's Brexit plan 'will probably kill' US-UK trade deal

Trump’s latest remarks reflect analysts’ views earlier in the week that the U.S. leader could bring further turmoil to Theresa May. Not only does she need to speed up talks with the EU to reach an agreement before the end of the year, but she also needs to control division within her own party — which could ultimately bring a leadership challenge or even another general election.

A spokesman for the prime minister said Friday morning that May is looking forward to sitting down with Trump and talking through her Brexit negotiating stance, Reuters reported.

In a 104-page document out Thursday, the U.K. government outlined how it wants its future relationship with the EU to be after Brexit. This plan — described as a white paper — suggested an agreement where the U.K. will keep trading goods with the EU the way it does at the moment, but make changes to the way services flow between both sides of the English Channel.

Mary Jo Jacobi, former assistant U.S. Secretary of Commerce during President’s George H. W. Bush, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Friday that this proposal is unclear and, as a result, it makes it difficult for the U.S. president to envisage a trade agreement with the U.K.

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Ex-US official: Brexit white paper not clear on trade deals beyond EU

“What is true is that when you read the white paper it is not clear at all, and I think this is what the president was referring to, whether or not the U.K. can have a trade agreement, multilateral in essence, with the EU and the member countries and have a separate trade agreement with the United States at the same time … That is not clear from the paper,” she said.

Jacobi added that the president’s approach “may or may not go well, but what it is, is the beginning of a discussion.”

“You put something out there in the extreme, the other side comes from the other extreme and then you have a lot of ground in the middle to make a deal,” she added.