Donald Trump has suggested Theresa May’s Brexit agreement could threaten a US-UK trade deal.
The US president told reporters the withdrawal agreement “sounds like a great deal for the EU” and meant the UK might not be able to trade with the US.
No 10 insisted it is “very clear” the UK would be able to sign trade deals with countries around the world.
Downing Street added that Mrs May is ready to defend her deal in a TV debate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
It has been reported the debate could take place on 9 December – two days before the Parliamentary vote on Mrs May’s deal.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Mr Trump said: “Right now if you look at the deal, [the UK] may not be able to trade with us. And that wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t think they meant that.”
It would appear Mr Trump was suggesting the agreement could leave Britain unable to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States.
However, responding to Mr Trump’s comments, a Downing Street spokesman said the Brexit withdrawal agreement struck on Sunday would 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 spokesman added.
The comments came after Mrs May fought off heavy criticism of her Brexit deal from MPs on all sides of the Commons on Monday – insisting the agreement would all the UK to regain control of laws, money and borders.
In other developments:
- Research published by the London School of Economics, King’s College and the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests the PM’s Brexit deal could leave the economy as much as 5.5% smaller in 10 years time than it would be if the UK stayed in the EU
- Judges at the European Court of Justice are to examine whether the UK can call off the process of leaving the EU without permission from member states, following a challenge by a group of Scottish politicians
- International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is visiting Israel to boost economic ties ahead of Brexit