President Donald Trump hinted that the world’s largest economy could strike “a tremendously big deal” with United Kingdom, if the latter country successfully negotiates its exit from the European Union.
In an interview with British broadcast journalist Piers Morgan, Trump — fresh from his first official visit to the U.K. — dangled the prospect of striking a generous free trade agreement with embattled Prime Minister Theresa May. With Brexit negotiations having hit rough shoals, May is under pressure to deliver on the 2016 vote to extricate the U.K. from the 28-member economic bloc.
“We would make a tremendously big deal” with Britain, Trump said in the interview, published by the Daily Mail, apparently trying to smooth over a firestorm created ahead of his visit.
"Oh I think we’re going to have a great trade deal, I’ve really no doubt about it," Trump said in the interview. "We’re going to get it. I said [to Theresa May], “Make sure you have a carve out, you have to have a carve out” - where no matter what happens they have the right to make a deal with the United States."
Last week British tabloid The Sun published an explosive interview in which Trump criticized May’s handling of Brexit — remarks that the president later disavowed.
In his interview with Morgan, Trump said the United States and its longtime ally would “argue, we’re going to fight, and we’re going to end up making a deal.”
He added, "We would make a great deal with the United Kingdom, because they have product that we like. I mean, they have a lot of great product. They make phenomenal things.”
According to trade group Export Britain, the United States is Britain’s largest single trading market. In 2017 the United States ran a modest trade surplus with the country, Census Data figures show, a stark contrast to the massive trade deficit the world’s largest economy runs with the European Union, which has drawn Trump’s ire as his administration pursues tariffs on major U.S. trading partners. Last year the EU ran a trade surplus with the United States of nearly $140 billion, according to European Commission data.
Trump lavished praise on British exports in the interview, describing them as “fantastic” as he waxed optimistic that the two countries could find common ground on trade.
The president’s remarks were published just as May told the BBC in an interview that Trump counseled her to “sue” the EU rather than negotiate a Brexit deal with the trade bloc. In his interview, Trump confirmed that he “recommended her something” but declined to say what he told May specifically.
“I gave her an option. I’d rather not tell you what that option is, but I think she might. I think it would’ve been great, but it’s not too late for her to do that, necessarily,” Trump said in the interview.