In Depth

General election 2019: Donald Trump attacks Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

No. 10 dismisses US president’s dim view of UK-US trade prospects

Downing Street has been forced to defend the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal after damning criticism from Donald Trump.

Speaking to Nigel Farage on LBC, the president said the US “can’t make a trade deal with the UK” under Boris Johnson’s proposed withdrawal agreement.

Farage – a friend and supporter of Trump – is leader of the Brexit Party and is set to stand in the upcoming December general election. The former UKIP leader has stood for election to the Commons on seven occasions since the 1990s and failed each time.

What exactly did Trump say?

Trump said the US wants to trade with the UK, and the UK wants to trade with the US, reports the BBC, but: “To be honest with you… this deal… under certain aspects of the [Brexit] deal… you can’t do it. You can’t trade.

“We can’t make a trade deal with the UK because I think we can do many times the numbers that we’re doing right and certainly much bigger numbers than you are doing under the European Union.”

He later added that the UK was being “held back by the European Union” and that “they’re very tough people to deal with”, says the Daily Express.

What was the response from the UK Government?

A No. 10 spokesperson said the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal “ensures that we take back control of our laws, trade, borders and money.

“Under this new deal, the whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union, which means we can strike our own free trade deals around the world from which every part of the UK will benefit,” they said.

And Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today that Johnson’s plan was a “good deal” that would allow the UK to “strike free trade deals around the world”.

“We know the deal enables us to secure deals with a range of growing economies [and] we’ll be setting out to do that,” said Jenrick.

What else was said?

Despite criticising his deal, Trump said Johnson was “the exact right guy for the times”, and told Farage that he and Johnson should “get together” to create “an unstoppable force” in UK politics.

“[Boris] is a fantastic man… and I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific,” he told Farage.

Farage has so far refused to rule out the prospect of the Brexit Party withdrawing candidates from hundreds of seats rather than running against the Tories, says Sky News.

Trump took aim at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the LBC call, saying he would be “so bad” as prime minister.

“Corbyn would be so bad for your country, so bad. He’d take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places,” said Trump. “But your country has tremendous potential. It’s a great country.”

He also denied Corbyn’s claims that the US was interested in profiting from NHS privatisation.

“I don’t even know where that started. I don’t even know where your healthcare system started with respect to us taking over your healthcare system. It’s so ridiculous. I think Corbyn put that out there.

“It’s not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system. No, we’re just talking about trade.”

Corbyn responded with a tweet, saying that Trump was trying to “interfere” in the 12 December election and help Johnson.

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