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Trump casts doubt on UK’s ability to trade with US post-Brexit

Trump casts doubt on UK's ability to trade with US post-Brexit

“I think we have to take a look at seriously whether or not the UK is allowed to trade. Because you know, right now, if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us,” Trump said on the White House’s South Lawn.

All 27 remaining European Union leaders approved Britain’s Brexit agreement on Sunday but May is yet to convince UK Parliament to sign off on the deal.

Trump said Monday the prospect that the plan could limit the UK’s ability to trade with the US after it exits the EU on March 29, 2019 “wouldn’t be a good thing.”

“I don’t think they meant that. I don’t think that the Prime Minister meant that. And hopefully, she’ll be able to do something about that,” Trump said.

A UK Government spokeswoman pushed back on the claim, saying that Britain’s ability to make independent trade deals with countries around the world once it leaves the EU is “very clear.”

“We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the US through our joint working groups,” Downing Street said in a statement, adding that the groups have met on five occasions.

Following the 2016 referendum, then-candidate Trump was a vocal cheerleader of the proposal to extricate the UK from the bloc, even going as far as predicting people would call him “Mr. Brexit” for his support.

Wheels in motion

The non-Brits guide to Brexit (because it affects you too)

The British Parliament will have a “meaningful vote” on the Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union on December 11, a Downing Street spokesman told CNN on Monday.

Under the draft agreement, the UK will stay inside the bloc’s single market and remain subject to EU laws and regulations until the end of December 2020 while the two sides attempt to iron out a new trade relationship.

During this period, all existing EU “regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures” will continue to apply within the UK, including rulings made in the Court of Justice of the EU.

Following unanimous approval of the deal by Europe’s 27 remaining members, May is currently scrambling to sway votes for the agreement in Parliament.

May has not said what would happen in the event Parliament rejects the deal, but she’s insisted that there is no better Brexit deal for Britain.

“I can say with absolute certainty that there is not a better deal available,” May said.

Multiple partners from both sides, both Remain and Leave, have voiced their opposition to the agreement.

Objecting to May’s draft political declaration — which covers future relations on trade, security relations and other issues, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “26 pages of waffle,” while Boris Johnson, a chief architect of Brexit and a former foreign secretary who resigned from May’s Cabinet over her plans, said it “makes a complete nonsense of Brexit.”

Attempts to cajole

Ahead of the vote, May asked MPs to “consider the interests of this country, the interest of constituents, and consider the importance of delivering on Brexit.”

On the question of Gibraltar, Britain’s tiny territory on the south coast of Spain, May said that, having worked “constructively” with the Spanish government, the UK has ensured Gibraltar will be covered “by the whole Withdrawal Agreement and implementation period.”

“We will always stand by you, we are proud that Gibraltar is British,” May added.

Recognizing the “depth of concern” some MPs may still have in relation to the so-called “backstop” on the Irish border, May said it was “an insurance policy no one wants to use.”

Should no other solution be found before the end of the withdrawal piece, the “backstop” would come into effect, consisting of a “single customs territory between the (European) Union and the United Kingdom.”

That customs union would remove all tariffs, checks on rules of origin and quotas, and would cover all goods except fishery products. “To this end, the United Kingdom will harmonize the commercial policy applicable to its customs territory with the common commercial policy of the Union,” the agreement says.

“Put simply, there is no deal that comes without a backstop, and without a backstop there is no deal,” May told Parliament Monday.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this story.

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