Trade

Barnier: Trump officials dont see Brexit benefits

The European Unions chief Brexit negotiator said today that no one he talked to this week in the Trump administration thought the U.K. would be better off after it leaves the EU.

“No one I met this week in the United States could find any added value to the Brexit,” Michel Barnier said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace after talks this week with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and members of Congress.

Barnier also steered clear of President Donald Trumps controversial attack on the United Kingdoms new plan for future trade relations with the EU.

Trump, in an interview with The Sun newspaper published on Thursday, said British Prime Minister Theresa Mays new Brexit plan would probably “kill” any chances of a free trade agreement between the United States and the U.K.

Thats a strong statement from Trump, who has supported the U.K.s decision to leave the EU and whose administration has already held three rounds of preparatory talks with the U.K. on a future agreement.

Earlier this week, in the hope that Trumps visit to the U.K. would advance prospects for a deal, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) launched the Senate U.K. Trade Caucus aimed at building congressional support for a U.S.-U.K. agreement, once the U.K. completes its divorce from the EU, which is scheduled for March 29, 2019.

Barnier was asked twice about Trumps comments during the Carnegie event, which took place at about the same time that Trump and May were holding a press conference at the end of the presidents visit. “Im in charge of negotiating with the U.K.,” Barnier told one questioner. “EU-U.K. U.K.-EU. So its not my role to comment on ongoing declarations” from Trump.

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