Trump attacks May's Brexit deal, says it may harm US-UK trade

US president says it "sounds like a great deal" for the EU, adding that Britain may not be able to trade with the US.

    May confirmed that British legislators will vote on the Brexit deal on December 11 [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
    May confirmed that British legislators will vote on the Brexit deal on December 11 [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    US President Donald Trump said on Monday that UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit agreement with the European Union (EU) may hamper trade between Washington and London.

    Speaking to reporters on Monday, Trump said the deal that May struck with Brussels "sounds like a great deal" for the EU.

    "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," he said.

    If Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, what can PM May do?

    "That wouldn't be a good thing. I don't think they meant that, I don't think the prime minister meant that, and hopefully she'll be able to do something about that," Trump said.

    May's office rejected the statement saying that the agreement allowed the UK to sign trade deals with countries around the world, including the US.

    "We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the US through our joint working groups, which have met five times so far," said a spokesperson for the office.

    On Sunday, the 27-member bloc approved the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on the future EU-UK relations.

    A very turbulent period now lies before the members of Britain's parliament, as they will vote on the deal in the coming weeks.

    On Monday, May made a blunt appeal to sceptical legislators to back the deal: It isn't perfect, but it's all there is, and the alternative is a leap into the unknown.

    In essence, she urged parliament: Let's agree and move on, for the sake of the voters.

    December 11 vote

    May confirmed that British lawmakers will vote on December 11, after several days of debate, on whether to approve or reject the agreement.

    Scores of legislators - from both the opposition and May's governing Conservative Party - have vowed to oppose it.

    INSIDE STORY: Can Theresa May deliver Brexit? (24:50)

    Rejection would plunge Britain into a political crisis and potential financial turmoil just weeks before it is due to leave the EU on March 29.

    "No one knows what would happen if this deal didn't pass," May told the House of Commons.

    "Our duty as a parliament over these coming weeks is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and decide what is in our national interest."

    Before then, May plans a frantic two-week cross-country campaign to convince both the public and legislators that the deal delivers on voters' decision in 2016 to leave the EU "while providing a close economic and security relationship with our nearest neighbours".

    But May's defence of her hard-won deal in parliament was followed by a torrent of criticism, from hard-core Brexit-backers, pro-EU legislators and previously loyal backbenchers alike.

    During Monday's debate in parliament, legislators again expressed their deep unease, if not hatred, of the deal that keeps Britain outside the EU with no say, but still subject to the rules and the obligations of membership at least until the end of 2020 while a permanent new relationship is worked out.

    Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the "botched deal" would leave Britain worse off, with "no say over EU rules and no certainty for the future".

    "Plowing on is not stoic. It's an act of national self-harm," he said.

    SOURCE: News agencies