The U.K. will likely miss out on a HUGE Donald Trump-style trade deal if Prime Minister Theresa May wins parliamentary approval for her Brexit, the U.S. ambassador to Britain warned Monday.
Ambassador Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and fierce Trump loyalist, delivered his ominous forecast in a radio interview with BBC4.
Johnson stressed that overall he is tremendously optimistic about the U.K.s future — more optimistic perhaps than many Britons whom he suggested were too focused on the past. But, describing his extensive travels around the country, he offered a devastating verdict on the state of the Union under Mays government.
“Ive been all over Wales, Ive been all over Ireland and Scotland and also England — and I am feeling that the country is in need of leadership,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the Trump administration hopes Brexit will lead to a bright new chapter in the so-called special relationship between the U.S. and U.K., but said a comprehensive trade deal seems unlikely if the Brexit Withdrawal Treaty that May brokered with the EU is ratified.
So far, May doesnt yet have the needed support for the deal in the British Parliament — a challenge made harder by Johnsons comments.
While British media outlets quickly began reporting that Johnson had “savaged” Mays deal, his full comments were nuanced.
President Trumps preference is “to do a quick, very massive bilateral trade deal,” Johnson said, “that could be the precursor of future trade deals with other countries around the world for Great Britain, that will really take you way, way into an exciting future.”
Asked specifically about Trumps earlier comment that Mays deal is too favorable for the EU and would make a U.S.— U.K. trade deal unlikely, Johnson added: “It doesnt look like it would be possible.”
Johnson said he believed members of Mays cabinet understood the risks to a U.S. deal but acknowledged that the U.K. government had to balance its interests in making a decision.
“I think they do understand but there are trade-offs in the situation they are dealt with and so they are going to have to measure the impact of all the other trade-offs in terms of how important these kinds of new trade arrangements, these new important trade arrangements, would benefit the people in the country.”
Throughout the interview, Johnson strongly defended Trump and his presidency despite the seemingly incessant chaos in Washington and an American foreign policy that many allies view as unpredictable and dangerous. Johnson also complained about press coverage in the U.S. and in Britain, which he said did not accurately reflect current events.
“I would rather focus on the positives coming out of this presidency,” Johnson said of Trump. “All of his accomplishments and what he is taking on that nobody was willing to take on. Nobody was willing to take on China. Nobody was willing to take on North Korea. Nobody was really willing to take on Iran. So I think his vision deserves a lot of respect, a lot more respect than it is getting, certainly in the press.”
As for Britain, Johnson urged Brits to be more cheery about their prospects and to focus more on the future.
“If you look back and you just try to project the past into the present and future, its going to be bleak. But you are leaving out the great thing that Britain has to offer and that is all of the people and all of their efforts, and their ability to solve problems. And if you factor that in, I think the future is extremely positive, extremely bright,” Johnson said.