In Depth

What world leaders are saying about Theresa May’s Brexit deal

US President Donald Trump has voiced doubts over transatlantic trade agreement

Donald Trump has dealt a blow to Theresa May’s hopes of getting her Brexit Bill through Parliament, by questioning whether the deal would allow for a transatlantic trade agreement between the US and the UK.

“Sounds like a great deal for the EU,” said the US president, when asked for his views on the agreement signed off by European leaders in Brussels on Sunday. 

“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... I don’t think that the prime minister meant that. And, hopefully, she’ll be able to do something about that,” Trump added.

Responding to his remarks, a Downing Street spokesperson insisted that the Brexit withdrawal would actually allow the UK to sign bilateral deals with countries 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,” the spokesperson added.

Trump’s intervention, “coming post deal and pre-Commons vote, can only be interpreted in one way - the president is siding with the prime minister’s critics”, says the BBC’s North America editor, Jon Sopel.

So what have other world leaders made of the deal?

French President Emmanuel Macron

“We must draw all the consequences that show that the European Union has a fragile side, it can be improved… It shows that our Europe needs to be rebuilt,” said Macron at the weekend. “Those who explained to the British that it would be quick and easy, they lied.”

To “ram home his point”, the French leader “added that cherished British objectives, such as taking full control of its fishing waters, would be hard to deliver”, says the Financial Times.

He also “implied that without sufficient progress on trade, the backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland would have to be implemented, including a temporary customs union for the whole of the UK”, says the BBC.

“It is a lever because it is in our mutual interest to have this future relationship,” Macron said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The Brexit deal is a “diplomatic piece of art”, according to Merkel, who said: “My feelings are very divided. I feel very sad, but at the same time I feel a sense of relief.” 

She insisted that while the agreement was based on very hard negotiations, it “considers both sides’ interests”.

The “sad situation” on Sunday at least contained “a seed of something positive”, Merkel continued. “We have put behind us a stretch of difficult path.” 

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

“The best for Ireland and Great Britain would be to remain in the EU, the single market and the customs union,” said Varadkar.

But “there isn’t a plan B”, he added. “The truth is what we have here is the best deal that’s available both for the United Kingdom and for the European Union.”

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte

“If there are people in Britain who think they can get a better deal, then they are wrong,” Rutte said. “This is the best you can get, both for Britain and the European Union. If there was anything better, I can tell you Theresa May would have gotten that.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

“With Brexit we all lose, especially the United Kingdom, but when it comes to Gibraltar, Spain wins,” said Sanchez - referencing the fact that he “secured a joint declaration from the European Council and European Commission that guarantees that the political, legal and even geographical relationship of Gibraltar with the EU will ‘pass through Spain’ after Brexit”, explains Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Northern Ireland’s DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds

“What Theresa May has succeeded in doing is putting a proposition on the table which is worse than no deal and worse than staying in the EU, whatever else is put on the table,” according to the Belfast North MP.

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