How Trump Has Made Theresa May’s Brexit Deal an Even Tougher Sell

November 27, 2018, 12:00 PM UTC

British Prime Minister Theresa May has refuted President Trump’s warning that the U.K. “may not be able to” trade with the U.S. after Brexit.

“The political declaration we have agreed with the EU is very clear that we will have an independent trade policy so that the UK can sign trade deals with countries around the world — including with the US,” says a 10 Downing Street statement released on the “Brexit Facts” blog Tuesday.

“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,” it added. “The US Trade Representative also issued a call for views from the public on a future UK-US free trade agreement earlier this month.”

President Trump’s comments make May’s scramble to get her Brexit deal passed through Parliament even more difficult. The chance to increase bilateral trade with partners like the U.S. was key to the Leave campaign’s argument that the U.K. should withdraw from the EU.

Trump said the Brexit deal sounded “like a great deal for the EU” — hinting heavily that it would, in turn, be bad for the U.K., which is scheduled to withdraw from the EU on March 29, 2019. The proposed deal allows for a transition period, which could last until December 2022. During that transition, the U.K. will maintain all its current commitments to the E.U., including financial contributions, but lose its representation — and its vote and influence — in the EU Council and Parliament.

EU leaders have signed off on the deal, but May faces an uphill battle getting it through the U.K. Parliament. The announcement of the deal was met with a string of high-level resignations in the British government, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. Currently, there is no clear majority support in the U.K. Parliament, which is divided into multiple warring factions over Brexit.

The House of Commons is scheduled to vote on the Brexit deal on December 11th.