EU Threatens to Punish Britain for Getting Close to Trump

Axel Schaefer, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD) parliamentary group, speaks during a meeting of the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, on June 4, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry/Getty

European Union policy spokesman and Berlin Brexit negotiator Axel Schäfer has said that Britain was “delusional” if it opted to prioritise deeper trade relations with the U.S. over remaining in the Single Market.

The senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partner told The Times that Britain would be left “more isolated after Brexit” with less chance of striking a trade deal with the U.S. following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Mr. Schäfer, who, after the EU referendum result said that the political bloc had not done enough to counter populist, Eurosceptic, “anti-EU tirades”, claimed that hopes of a trade deal with the U.S. under President Trump were unfounded:

“What changed [with Trump’s election] is the likelihood of a speedy and preferential trade deal between UK and US…Even before Tuesday the chances were rather low, now the hope for this kind of deal seems delusional.”

He added: “With a more inward-looking Trump administration, it is in United Kingdom’s own interest to seek close co-operation with their EU partners in this field.”

President-elect Trump had said that if he were elected president that he would not send the country “to the back of the queue”  – a reference to President Barack Obama’s threat that the UK would be given the lowest priority for trade deals upon voting to leave the political bloc.

Mr. Trump had previously shared a stage with interim UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the man who delivered the Leave vote, in Mississippi during his presidential campaign, referred to himself as “Mr. Brexit”, and has compared his victory to the Leave result.

Mr Farage has recently stated that “this president is instinctively Anglophile”.

A statement released on Thursday confirmed that in a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Theresa May and the President-elect they agreed that the U.S.-British relationship was “very important and very special, and that building on this would be a priority for them both” and that Ms. May should visit “as soon as possible”.

“President-elect Trump set out his close and personal connections with, and warmth for, the UK. He said he was confident that the special relationship would go from strength to strength,” it added.


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