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UK government defends Brexit deal after extraordinary attack by Donald Trump

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter

The UK government has defended its new Brexit deal with the EU after it came under fire from US president Donald Trump, who warned it could damage British trade with the US.

Trump waded into British politics on Thursday by calling into Nigel Farage’s show on LBC, saying parts of the Brexit agreement meant the US “can’t make a trade deal with the UK.”

He also called for Farage and Johnson to work together as an “unstoppable force” in the looming election.

The comments are a major headache for the UK prime minister and his Conservative party as Britain prepares to head to the polls in December.

Robert Jenrick, housing, communities and local government minister, said Trump’s view was “not how we see it,” telling BBC Radio 4 on Friday the deal struck by Johnson “means we can now strike our own free trade deals around the world.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson Brexit deal could wipe £70bn off UK economy by 2029

Johnson’s proposed deal goes further than his predecessor Theresa May’s in swapping frictionless access to EU markets for greater freedom to strike deals with countries like the US.

It would take Britain out of the customs union as well as the single market, making other trade deals easier but risking a £70bn hit in lost growth in the long run, according to one think tank this week.

A spokesman for Downing Street said “every part of the UK will benefit” from new global trade deals under an agreement that “ensure that we can take back control of our laws, trade, borders and money.”

Conservative MP David Mundell said people would take Trump’s comments on anything “with a pinch of salt,” saying the US president had “said many different things about a possible trade deal.”

Trump had told LBC: “We want to do trade with UK and they want to do trade with us,” he said.

“To be honest with you, this deal, under certain aspects of the deal, you can’t do it, you can’t do it, you can’t trade.

“We can’t make a trade deal with the UK because I think we can do many times the numbers that we’re doing right now and certainly much bigger numbers than you are doing under the European Union.”

But the interview also saw Trump call Johnson “the exact right guy for the times,” while also warning Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would take Britain “into such bad places.”