Tim Farron: Trump putting the UK at the ‘back of the queue’ is a devastating blow to May’s hard Brexit

Responding to reports Donald Trump will put the EU ahead of the UK in trade talks, Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

This is a devastating blow to Theresa May’s hard Brexit plans.

Yet another claim by the Brexiteers, that Britain would be at the front of the queue for a trade deal with US, now lies in tatters.

Theresa May should now make clear she will prioritise a trade deal with the EU over one with Trump.

It’s not too late to prevent a hard Brexit and keep Britain in the Single Market.

This election is a chance to change the direction of our country.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Nicholas Cunningham 22nd Apr '17 - 2:31pm

    It’s not only proves that theory of Brexit is one of blowing in the wind, it is of course a very logical step for America to take. A populous of 500 million against just above 60 million, it’s a no-brainer, markets do the talking, that’s reality.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Apr '17 - 2:39pm

    It’s not just the US. Any potential trade partner will prioritize the EU over the UK.

  • Phil Beesley 22nd Apr '17 - 3:39pm

    Perhaps Donald Trump thinks that it may benefit him or the USA to make disruptive comments.

    Over at the Guardian/Observer, it is reported that Guy Verhofstadt has a few words to say about Theresa May’s election decision. There are no new ideas there; we’ve seen similar ones from UK politicians. But perhaps Guy Verhofstadt thinks that it may benefit him or people like him to rock the boat.


    Overseas friends and foes will be giving sage words to civil servants and politicians negotiating Brexit. I assume that much advice will be passed in private in order that wiser decisions can be made in public. And much rightly or wrongly ignored.

    I don’t think the thoughts of Trump or Verhofstadt help the British public in their voting deliberations. I think the words are intended to bully people — and not just the British public. Writing just before polling in the French Presidential election, Verhofstadt presents ideas that seem more immediately pertinent in France than to here.

    In spite of Brexit negotiations, the UK is a partner of EU nations. The UK is still a member and it deserves to be treated as a friend. UK will be a friend afterwards. Veiled threats to the UK during Brexit negotiations will be observed badly by the rest of the world — if that is how you treat your friends, etc.

    We’ve got an awful lot to decide about in the UK, and whilst our political debate may seem crazy, external intrusions have to be a lot more illuminating than the ones so far.

  • Sorry but this is just flimsy hearsay from two publications that have a Remainer axe to grind, particularly in the case of the Independent.

    And in any case, the UK trades perfectly well with the US without any special trade deals. We have a big surplus with the US, unlike with the EU – where we have supposedly the most advantageous trading relationship of all.

    UK exports to EU in 2016 were down 13% on five years earlier, while those to the US were UP 18% over the same period. With the EU we had a trade deficit last year of £95bn, while with the US we had a surplus of £11bn.

    The bottom line: Somebody pursuing their own agenda has hinted that we’re not first in the queue for something that we don’t need anyway.

  • nigel hunter 22nd Apr '17 - 4:38pm

    It has been noted what other countries say about the impact of Brexit on the UK.Equally ALL countries would rather do trade deals with a large market before they throw scraps to small minor ones. Brexit will be a hill to climb. If you have sang to children ‘The Grand Old Duke of York marched his men to the top of the hill and then he had to march them down again May might change her mind and stay in the EU to prevent a catastrophe for the country.
    The winners o f Brexit will be the millionaire Tory backers who will earn vast sums from workers on cheap wages.

  • Where has anyone said the UK are at the back of the queue?

  • Michael Cole 22nd Apr '17 - 5:01pm

    Nicholas Cunningham and Richard Dean: Absolutely right.

    Phil Beesley: Forgive me if I misunderstand your point. It seems your complaint is that overseas politicians should not influence UK elections. The vast majority would agree with this.

    I am certainly no supporter of Donald Trump but his reported support for prioritising the EU is merely an expression of pragmatic business reality. Did you object when Theresa and Donald were walking hand-in-hand at the White House ?

  • Michael Cole 22nd Apr '17 - 5:06pm

    malc: You mean that the UK will be at the front of the queue ?

  • Phil Beesley 22nd Apr '17 - 5:23pm

    malc: “Where has anyone said the UK are at the back of the queue?”

    A “friend” at the negotiations, Guy Verhofstadt said: “Come the summer of 2019, unless the government requests transitional arrangements to the contrary and these requests are agreed by all EU countries, UK citizens will have no more of a right to holiday, travel and study in EU countries than tourists from Moscow or students from Mumbai.”

    What a lovely bloke! It actually means that a lot of British people will not be European enough.

    Men like Verhofstadt aren’t liberals.

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Apr '17 - 5:29pm

    I don’t think this talk of queues is helpful. There will be a trade agreement between the US and the EU. Any agreement with the UK will have to be consistent with the US/EU agreement. My guess is that the UK will have terms dictated to it – tag along, if allowed.

  • Richard Easter 22nd Apr '17 - 5:42pm

    Sorry but being at the back of the queue for TTIP or any variant of TTIP is a good thing.

    In fact this has been used by both Labour and UKIP as a reason for Brexit.

  • Phil Beesley 22nd Apr '17 - 5:47pm

    Nom de Plume: “I don’t think this talk of queues is helpful. There will be a trade agreement between the US and the EU.”

    Which will be wonderful for the people who have spent their lives across the world trying to get the price for their local commodity.

  • “no more of a right to holiday, travel and study in EU countries than tourists from Moscow or students from Mumbai.”

    Of course Spain will love him for that the loss of British income to their tourist industry would be catostrophic to some parts of the country.. The man should think before he speaks as to the Tory right will seize upon this threat to show how evil the EU are leaving more sensible pro EU voices ignored.

    Of course the same would be true for the EU nationals currently working, studying or wishing to holiday in the UK who would then receive reciprocal treatment. Doomsday scenarios like this made the last Scottish Indy ref close and, IMHO contributed to us losing the Brexit one.

    Cooler heads are talking of prioritising reciprocal rights and this bully, like those from our side of the channel should be given short shrift. We are not fighting the referendum anymore, we lost it and threats from people like this will make it harder to play the soft brexit card.

  • Arnold Kiel 22nd Apr '17 - 6:30pm

    There is more than the question of sequence behind the “queue contest”.

    First of all, the UK will have to demonstrate to the world that it honours contracts it has entered into by achieving a divorce-consensus with the EU. Crashing out is no option if you hope to sign future agreements with anybody who is, or wishes to be, in good standing with the EU (i.e. everybody).

    Then everybody will watch what the EU-UK-agreement will be, because such agreement always includes 3rd-party-sourcing rules. Any country or trading block contemplating an EU and UK trading agreement will look at interdependencies between both potential agreements. Nobody wants to enter into an agreement with the UK that might create problems in subsequent EU-negotiations. Especially the 53 countries with an existing EU-trade agreement will sit tight.

    Because of volume and complexity, most potential partners will view an EU-deal therefore as the master to be established first, and the UK-deal as the slave to be modeled in compliance with that.

    Shocking that Trump has understood this quicker than May, Johnson and Fox.

    The “own trade-deal-idea” is one of the most crazy Brexit-arguments. As a member, the UK could shape EU-agreements and arrive simultaneously with 27 others. Instead of being faster, a “sovereign” UK will have to add the so terriby slow European to its own negotiation timelines. It will always arrive 2nd.

  • Paul Murray 22nd Apr '17 - 6:41pm

    This is the exact opposite of what Paul Ryan said in London on Wednesday. Why should we pay attention to an anonymous claim given to pro-remain journalists and ignore the public, on-record statement of a senior member of the US administration?

  • Martin Land 22nd Apr '17 - 7:03pm

    I just wish the advocates of Brexit would be honest with us. They are quite aware that Brexit is an economic disaster but they are prepared to pay any price to achieve their petty, xenophobic little England. Why can’t they just be honest?

  • Nom de Plume 22nd Apr '17 - 7:15pm

    Verhofstadt is correct, if somewhat blunt and a little apocalyptic. Perhaps it would be useful to look into the abyss once in a while. I don’t see what it has to do with liberalism.

  • @Phil Beesley

    “Men like Verhofstadt aren’t liberals.”

    he is a politician and will do what is good for him and his electorate. The fact you don’t like that will bother him not at all. You can scream as many insults as you like but reality will not change because your are having a hissy fit. i suspect over the coming years we will see many hissy fits which have no affect what so ever.

    Reality my brave Brexiteer will be painful but it is a lesson we will all learn.

  • Paul Walter

    I still can’t find where anyone says the UK will be at the back of the queue. President Trump, Paul Ryan and Robert Lighthizer all seem strong supporters of the UK. At the moment the UK can’t do any deals so perhaps the EU may get in before us, but saying we are at the back of the queue is a little over the top.

    Arnold Kiel

    We are a proud country and won’t take threats from the EU lightly and I say that as someone who voted remain. I think you underestimate how many friends the UK has and also how much the EU will miss the UK if we leave.

  • Martin Land 22nd Apr '17 - 8:26pm

    and pride comes before a fall.

  • Martin Land

    Perhaps, but many of us are proud of our country and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • malc,

    Your over estimating our importance and the regard we are held in. I suspect your far from alone in this.

  • Martin Land 22nd Apr '17 - 8:43pm

    @malc. Patriotism is fine, but Brexit is about nationalism and that isn’t.

  • Arnold Kiel 22nd Apr '17 - 9:33pm

    malc, that is exactly the problem: people feeling that economic logic insults their pride. Wouldn’t you agree that the leave-arguments are insulting everybody’s intelligence?

    Isn’t it funny: the UK brexits, because all it ever wanted from the EU was the commercial bit. And now you bet on old and new “friends” to neglect their commercial interests by giving the UK trading preference over the EU. Good luck!

    Sure the EU will miss the UK. And not just for commercial reasons. But what is your point here? the UK certainly was not kicked out.

  • Arnold

    ‘Because of volume and complexity, most potential partners will view an EU-deal therefore as the master to be established first, and the UK-deal as the slave to be modeled in compliance with that.’

    How on earth do all those countries that are not in the EU survive ?

    Thank god we are leaving this monster.

  • “I don’t think this talk of queues is helpful. There will be a trade agreement between the US and the EU.”

    There is already an EU-US trade deal in place, there is no UK-US trade deal and if the UK is to honour its commitments it is unable to agree to such a deal until after it leaves the EU. However, there is no such constraint on the EU, preventing it from commencing negotiations and finalising an agreement prior to the UK leaving the EU…

  • Too quick to post! The EU-US agreement I’m referring to is naturally any amendments to the existing EU28-US deal found necessary to reflect the smaller EU27.

  • Arnold Kiel

    ‘Crashing out is no option if you hope to sign future agreements with anybody who is, or wishes to be, in good standing with the EU (i.e. everybody).’

    There are limits to what any country will accept and if it’s a deliberately awful deal ( for example worse than the recent EU Canada deal) it will be seen as such by other countries as a deliberate discriminatory / punishment deal.

    Separately do you honestly believe for example that the German car industry, that currently has € 18 billion of sales in their second largest export market, which they affectionately call treasure island, would allow their business to be trashed by a lousy deal or the UK walking away ?
    Since Brexit imported cars have had around a 16% price increase due to currency, with no deal that would be a further 10% increase due to tariffs with probable further currency adjustments.

    Are you really saying that the German car industry is going to sit back and accept a 26 – 30 % + increases. All for the love of the EU & Brussels ?

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Apr '17 - 7:45am


    the separation settlement comes before a future trade arrangement. It’s main elements will be residents and residual obligations, not cars. It needs the approval of a qualified majority of member states and of the European parliament. The future trade deal itself requires ratification in every parliament of every EU-member (just your Government wishes this vote to be meaningless). Even if Germany wanted to (it doesn’t), it could not override the countries (net EU recipients, btw), whose citizens, not cars, reside in the UK.

    Apart from legalities, the economic reality is that the socalled British (all foreign owned and managed) motor industry is unsustainable outside the single market. In the end, you will mostly drive imports and pay the price the prevailing trading regime and your weakening £ demands. Clearly, a poorer Britain will downtrade and keep its cars for longer, but that’s what you wanted.

    What you call a monster is for me a very beneficial compromise between 28 different countries. Complex it is, but you will see that going it alone is also complex, monstrously so, one might say.

  • Arnold Kiel

    ‘the separation settlement comes before a future trade arrangement.’

    That’s the theory, you may find that the reality is that the two are linked.

    ‘ Even if Germany wanted to (it doesn’t), it could not override the countries (net EU recipients, btw), whose citizens, not cars, reside in the UK.’

    He who pays the piper calls the tune is again the reality & turkeys seldom vote for Christmas.

  • Arnold Kiel 27th Apr '17 - 5:34pm

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