President Donald Trump promised the U.K. a “phenomenal trade deal” Tuesday, on the second day of his state visit to Britain.
His comments revealed little detail but added to previous assurances from the U.S. president as Britain slowly edges toward an exit from the EU.
“As the U.K. makes preparations to exit the European Union, the United States is committed to a phenomenal trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K.,” Trump said at a joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
“There is tremendous potential in that trade deal — I say probably two and even three times of what we are doing right now,” Trump told reporters after meeting May for talks which lasted an hour.
Trump added that he thought Brexit will happen and should happen, responding to questions on the current impasse in Westminster which has helped to topple May who is stepping down as Conservative Party leader on Friday.
The talks with May on Tuesday involved a variety of contentious topics, which included climate change, trade and tensions with Iran. The U.K. is not allowed to open official trade talks with other nations until it has fully left the bloc.
May’s Brexit deal with the EU has been rejected three times by U.K. lawmakers and the deadline for Britain’s departure has now been pushed back to October 31 while a leadership contest — and potentially even a general election — takes place.
Trump said Tuesday that anything was on the table with regards to a U.S.-U.K. trade deal and said May had done a very good job with Brexit and deserved a lot of credit.
The pound was little changed against the dollar on Tuesday afternoon as both leaders spoke.
‘Very substantial trade deal’
Earlier on Tuesday at a breakfast meeting co-hosted with May and attended by British and American business leaders, Trump said that the U.S. would do a “very very substantial trade deal” with the U.K.
He also thanked May for doing what he called a “fantastic job” and told her to “stick around.” May will stay on as an interim prime minister until her successor is elected. Trump’s praise of May comes after he criticized her handling of the Brexit negotiations during a previous visit to the U.K. in 2018. The president has already backed Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and ex-foreign minister, as the next prime minister.
Trump met Queen Elizabeth II on Monday and attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace at which he lauded the “eternal friendship” between the two countries. Trump’s visit has not gone down well in all quarters, however, with the leaders of opposition political parties boycotting the state dinner.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to address an anti-Trump rally taking place on Tuesday amid wider protests in other U.K. cities. Trump on Tuesday said he thought Corbyn was somewhat of a “negative force” when pressed by reporters.
On the third and last day of the state visit, Trump and his family are expected to attend an event with May and other heads of state marking the 75thanniversary of the D-Day landings, before traveling to Ireland where he will meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.