In April 2016, less than two months before Britons went to the polls to vote on whether the U.K. should be in or out of the European Union, then-President Barack Obama warned the country it would be at “the back of the queue” for a U.S. trade deal if “leave” won the vote.
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That comment went down like a lead balloon and it certainly helped to galvanize Brexit supporters who saw it as a heavy handed threat from a leader who approved of the kind of bureaucratic malaise and overreach so popular in Brussels.
As we know, “leave” won by a 52 percent to 48 percent majority, back of the queue be dammed, a majority wanted out.
Fast forward two and a half years and the U.K. is still trying to figure out a divorce deal with the EU that can win enough votes in Parliament and the threat of a “no deal” exit is becoming very real as the clock ticks down to the March 29th deadline.
If that happens, the U.K. is getting a very different message from the Trump administration with the president promising an expanded trade relationship.
"You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit and the complexity and the problems, but we have a very good trading relationship with the U.K. and that's just been strengthened further," Trump said from the Rose Garden on Friday. "So with the U.K., we’re continuing our trade, and we are going to actually be increasing it very substantially as time goes by."
It's music to the ears of hard core Brexiteers who believe Britain can prosper just fine outside the restrictive EU rule book, and forge successful free trade deals around the globe.
The president had previously suggested that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan was a deal breaker because it still gave Brussels too much power.
The U.K. has already struck a deal with the U.S. to preserve $16.6 billion of trade after Brexit with the promise of more to come.
The U.S. is the U.K.'s largest trading partner outside the EU, with total trade worth an estimated $239 billion.
Liam Fox, the UK’s international trade secretary said: "The U.K. and the U.S. are the strongest of trading partners and this agreement will allow British and American businesses to keep trading as freely as they do today, without additional bureaucracy."
So much for “back of the queue.”