It shouldn’t all be about trade, of course, and personally that isn’t my main reason for being anti-Brexit. But if it’s trade that brings Theresa May’s Brexit plan down, I shan’t complain.
Trump’s statement yesterday, that her proposal will stand in the way of an Anglo-American trade agreement, could well do that. Trump’s objection, I imagine, is that May’s proposal is not Brexity enough. Britain’s remaining in the (or ‘a’) European single market will mean that she must continue to adhere to European standards – of food quality, employment practices and so on – which are higher (or more restrictive) than the US’s. This means that America will not be able to have a competitive advantage by exporting its rubbish to us.
At the time of the referendum campaign one after another of the leading Brexiteers was telling us that we could ‘easily’ compensate for any European trade losses by means of an agreement with America. But now we can see that that will carry a price. We could sign a deal with the USA by cutting loose entirely from the EU and lowering our standards. Most of the ideological Brexiteers won’t mind that at all: ‘free-er’ trade in this unfettered ‘race to the bottom’ sense is what they’ve been after all along. Indeed, it could be the main motive – though only a whispered one – for their Brexitism. But now its implications been more clearly revealed, it’s not certain that the bulk of their compatriots will agree. They’ve been rather put off recently by the idea of ‘chlorinated chicken’ and bug-infested cheese.
So thanks, Donald. Now let’s see if his ace of spades has any effect – either way.
PS. my FB friend Marie Clausén adds this, helpfully: ‘From what I’ve gathered, it’s not just that product and practice standards will have to be lowered in order for a trade deal to materialize between the UK and the US, or indeed between the UK and Canada or the UK and any other non-EU country. It’s that the deal, as it is currently worded, prohibits the UK from making extra-EU trade deals without the explicit approval of the 27 EU states in each case.
‘So for the UK it will be a case of having the shite cake (not being in the EU) and eating the shite cake (still not being allowed to independently negotiate trade agreements globally), too.’