Brexit: UK PM May says Trump told her to sue the EU

US president told May to sue the EU instead of negotiating as she pushes to unite her party behind Brexit blueprint.

Theresa May
May's comments came after Trump challenged her handling of Brexit during his UK visit [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump told Theresa May she should sue the EU instead of negotiating a Brexit deal, the British prime minister said.

May told the BBC on Sunday that is what Trump referred to in a Friday press conference when he said he had made a suggestion that May found “too brutal”. 

“No, no – we’re going into negotiations with them,” May said she told the US president.

The British prime minister made the revelation as she tries to unite her Conservative Party behind her blueprint for a UK withdrawal from the European Union, warning detractors that failing to “keep our eyes on the prize” could result in “no Brexit at all”. 

In a Facebook post on Sunday, May said she had “yet to see a workable alternative future trading arrangement” to compete with her proposals. 

The UK government published its highly anticipated Brexit white paper, which lays out its proposal for the UK’s split from the EU, on Thursday. 

The 104-page document calls for close economic ties with the bloc through a new free trade area, as well as a “common rulebook” for goods. 

Trump undermined May’s proposal when he said the blueprint would “probably kill” prospects for a UK-US trade deal in an interview with The Sun published on Friday. 

After meeting with May on Friday, however, Trump seemed to roll back his comments, declaring a deal would be “absolutely possible”.

“President Trump has made it clear he wants a trade deal and is now confident we will be able to do it,” May wrote in her Facebook post. 

In an interview published in the Mail on Sunday, Trump said, “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, you know, and you have different names – you can say ‘England’, you can say ‘UK’, you can say ‘United Kingdom’ so many different – you know you have, you have so many different names – Great Britain.”

Leadership challenge

May’s blueprint sparked two high-profile resignations in May’s cabinet last week, with Brexit minister David Davis and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson abandoning their posts in advance of its publication. 

In his resignation letter, Johson complained that May’s plans “stick in the throat”. 

The resignations raised the spectre of a no-confidence vote. The Guardian reported 40 out of the required 48 legislators had allegedly lodged no-confidence letters to the chairman of the Tory party’s backbench 1922 Committee.

But in order to remove the prime minister, May’s opponents would need to collect 159 votes within the Conservative party.

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

If May fails to negotiate an agreement on the terms of Brexit before then, a “no deal” scenario could mean the UK would start trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules, and would have uncertain consequences for the status of EU citizens living in the UK, as well as Britons living in EU countries. 

Source: Al Jazeera