Boost for Theresa May as Donald Trump boasts of 'very substantial' post-Brexit trade
Theresa May has been handed a boost by Donald Trump as the US President promised to "very, very substantially" increase trade with the UK after Brexit.
The American commander-in-chief, who has previously taken potshots at the agreement the Prime Minister thrashed out with the EU, said ties between the two countries would be "strengthened further" after the UK leaves the bloc.
His comments came as the US and UK struck a deal to preserve some £12.8bn worth of trade links once Britain leaves the EU.
The new agreement will keep in place “all relevant aspects” of the United States’ current trade deal with the European Union after Brexit, with ministers boasting that the pharmaceuticals, technology and telecoms sectors will be the biggest beneficiaries of the pact.
Speaking outside the White House as the agreement was signed off, President Trump dropped a hint that the US was likely to ramp up its trade ties with Britain post-Brexit.
"You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit and the complexity and the problems," he told reporters.
"But we have a very good trading relationship with the UK and that's just been strengthened further.
"So with the UK we're continuing our trade and we are going to actually be increasing it very substantially as time goes by.
"We expect that the UK will be very, very substantially increased as it relates to trade with the United States. The relationship there also is very good."
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox - who this week came under fire after it emerged that Britain has yet to sign a wave of promised post-Brexit trade deals - said the move would let British firms "keep trading as freely as they do today".
The Cabinet minister said: "Our top priority is ensuring continuity for businesses as we leave the European Union and we are signing other agreements in the days and weeks ahead.
"We look forward to sitting down at the negotiating table with the Americans after we leave the European Union to strike an ambitious new free trade agreement."
President Trump's warm words about trade with the UK are a far cry from his last high-profile public comments on Brexit, when he said Mrs May's deal with Brussels "sounds like a great deal for the EU".
"I think we have to take a look at seriously whether or not the UK is allowed to trade," he said back in November.
"Because, you know, right now if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us and that wouldn’t be a good thing."
The US commander-in-chief also caused alarm in the Government last year, when he told the Sun that the Prime Minister had "probably killed" any hopes of a free trade deal between the two countries by ignoring his advice to go for a clean break with the EU.