Mr Trump, Brexit and trade

The President is mainly coming to the UK to commemorate the D day landings  and the  70 years of the NATO alliance. He will be very positive about the UK’s role and contribution. He and his advisers also fully accept the UK’s decision to leave the EU and would be happy to negotiate a free trade agreement as soon as the UK government is willing and able to do so. Mrs May was reluctant all the time we stayed in the EU, wrongly  claiming the EU  Treaty stopped us holding detailed negotiations.

The US has been making it clear for some time that they think Huawei is a threat to their national security, and recommend allies take the same view. As we share many secrets with them they do not want our systems offering access to companies in China that they think operate for the Chinese state.

Mr Trump’s recent imposition of tariffs on Mexico until they do more to control illegal migration into the USA across their border adds to the trade tensions with China. The President is also allowing only 180 days to the Europeans to respond to his claim  that the EU in general and Germany  in particular are cheating in their trade in cars, with asymmetric tariffs against the USA. As soon as the UK is out of the EU we can make our own decisions on a fair tariff regime for vehicles and avoid the likely fall out from a wider trade war if the USA takes action against  the EU as it is doing with China and Mexico.

The markets are not liking the aggressive stance on trade , but Mr Trump does have issues over Mexico and China that resonate with many US voters. It will be interesting to see if and when the President feels he has been offered enough by way of a possible compromise or settlement.


  1. Lifelogic
    June 1, 2019

    Hammond was boasting the other day about his having increased the National Minimum Wage by £2,750 (gross) in three years. I am sure those unemployed as a direct result of being priced out of work are most grateful for a law stopping them from working by law even if they want to. As doubtless are the companies who have to pay for it all (plus the increased NI on to of it) it giving them far less to invest in growth, new staff, equipment & productivity improvements.

    Those on about this wage level are not really much better off either (after inflation, increases taxes/NI/enforced pension contributions (the 20% increase in Hammond’s insurance tax for example) and withdrawal of many benefits due to their now notionally higher salary.

    In the round it is basically another tax increase that he is giving us and another impediment to productivity and growth. Hopefully this tax, regulate, make endlessly complex, borrow and tip the money down the drain Chancellor is very nearly history.

    Plus we have the university loan proposals (no longer to be written off after 30 years but 40 years). Effectively yet another tax increase.

    The real problem is that about 50%-70% of university degree are worth nothing like the £50K plus loss of three years earnings that they cost. Half the people going to study at universities have 3 Ds at A level or lower. They should get a job and resit at night school or learn on the job some practical skill.

    The government is wasting money on soft loans to encourage at least half of university students to get into circa £50k of debt – for mainly worthless qualifications. They are selling a pig in a poke on soft credit to students and wasting vast sums of tax payer’s money.

    1. Pominoz
      June 1, 2019


      Thought I read this yesterday.

      1. Lifelogic
        June 1, 2019

        Oh sorry, I wrote it yesterday but I thought I had not actually submitted it!

        1. jerry
          June 1, 2019

          @LL; “Oh sorry, I wrote it yesterday”


          That admission explains a lot, such as how you post such long comments seemingly just seconds after our hosts article is published, and why you so often go way off topic so early in the day … and there I was, thinking you must work the night shift as a factory security guard or some such. 😀

          Yes, I might well post just as long comments, but at least mine are a/. on topic (or at least topical to the morning news) and b/. written on the day of posting!

      2. M Davis
        June 1, 2019

        De Ja Vue!

  2. Mark B
    June 1, 2019

    The US has indeed been taken advantage of. Tariff’s on some of its goods are still too high compared to what it imposes on the same products from abroad. But it isn’t only the US. African countries are also unfairly treated when it comes to trade. But there is more ! I recently read and article on the CFA franc. This is a currency used by France’s former African Colonies. It is well worth researching and reading.

    Choice empowers and liberates people. Take away choice and you end up with bad or no service.

    1. Alan Jutson
      June 1, 2019


      do NOT understand.

    2. jerry
      June 1, 2019

      @Mark B; “Choice empowers and liberates people. Take away choice and you end up with bad or no service.”

      Except you then have all the choice you desire but can find all the choices are equally as bad as each other, as every manufacture or supplier aims towards the same most common denomination of product design to maximise profit because the market place is so crowded!

      1. libertarian
        June 2, 2019


        Not even remotely true.

        A Tesla the same as a Ferrari , An Apple iMac the same as a Dell Windows machine. I can buy a Smart 4k TV or a cheap LED TV You can buy a smart phone from £15 upto £1200 all with different features and operating systems . One look at an insurance comparison site presents you with a smorgasbord of different options at different prices .

        If you knew about business and marketing you would know that products are developed and marketed aimed at different markets premium, mass, low cost , niche etc There no such thing as common denomination products

        1. jerry
          June 2, 2019

          @libertarian; “A Tesla the same as a Ferrari”

          Bespoke and Custom purchases will always disprove the otherwise norm, as will comparing Pears with Oranges…

          “If you knew about business and marketing you would know that products are developed and marketed aimed at different markets premium, mass, low cost”

          No one was arguing about that, but why is a Lexus so very similar to a Merc, intentionally so, why has a Galaxy smart phone been designed to look and function like a iPhone (or was it the other way around more recently) – and yes an Apple mac is now much the same as any other Intel chipped computer now of a given chip speed, All £1500 smart TVs will all have much the same spec, in fact some will be the same basic product, made in the same Chinese factory, only the outer case being different. Think CAD/CAM automated design and manufacture methods, differences being in the Firmware.

          Returning to motor vehicles, Vauxhall, Opel & Saab, all have in the past used the same engines, transmissions & floorpans in the past, but sold them at very different price points, but all three marques were owned by the same parent company, just like BL used badge engineering, but what about these recent vans, the Renault Trafic, the Fiat Talento, the Nissan NV300, the Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro [1], with even the spare part supply shared, I have seen Vauxhall dealers supply parts labelled as Renault!

          [1] yes Renault and Nissan might have been logical bedfellows given their corporate relationship, but not the others, all were in direct competition to each other, but they all had to make R&D savings so they shared the R&D

        2. jerry
          June 4, 2019

          @libertarian; In the absence of my longer reply, let me try again. The point I was making is that there can be to much choice at times, the market thus becomes crowded, to many players chasing the same customers will reduce profit margins for all, whilst modern manufacturing method (CAD/CAM, the use of AI to determine the best human-product interface etc) will naturally result in very similar products – and perhaps even shared R&D between some manufactures.

  3. Alan Jutson
    June 1, 2019

    Mr Trump is not popular with most of the World because he does things which are unusual for a Democratically elected Political leader.
    He acts fast in his Country’s interest first to speed up a reaction, rather than get involved in months and months or years and years of dialogue, this puts him always on the front foot, with his opposition trying to play catch up.

    He knows the US has enormous trade power, and he knows past Presidents have been rather lax in allowing other Countries to take advantage of selling into the USA, so he is using trade as a leaver to get concessions.

    Yes his actions are disruptive, and he understands that perfectly, but if he then gets concessions and a fairer playing field for the USA and their own goods and products then he has won.

    Shame our Political Party leaders do understand the strength of our own economy and trade World wide, to get us a better deal with others particularly the EU.

    1. Ian
      June 1, 2019

      Most of us in The UK are given highly chlorinated water in out taps to shower in, clean our teeth and so on. Its just in the EU generally because of poor animal welfare standards and of course as a trade inhibitor they seek to ban it

      1. Ian
        June 1, 2019

        Most of us in The UK are given highly chlorinated water in out taps to shower in, clean our teeth and so on. Its just in the EU generally because of poor animal welfare standards and of course as a trade inhibitor they seek to ban it

        1. Ian
          June 1, 2019

          Please delete

      2. Ian
        June 1, 2019

        Please delete, something went wrong

      3. jerry
        June 1, 2019

        @Ian; Indeed, chicken washed in chlorinated water is oh so bad, but the eurocrats and Green lobby are fine that fruit and veg washed in chlorinated water…

  4. Grant
    June 1, 2019

    So, your plan for the future is a trade deal with Mr Trump, who is singlehandedly trashing the WTO. Great. Chlorine chicken and privatisation of the NHS – try that on the voters at tbe next election

    1. J Bush
      June 1, 2019

      Much of the water supply in Britain is chlorinated to kill germs.

      NHS privatisation was an integral part of TTIP was Obama’s’ baby along with the EU. Trump threw TTIP out on his election.

      1. L Jones
        June 1, 2019

        Don’t confuse the issue with real facts, JB. People find it difficult to rant when they’re presented with them.

    2. James Sutherland
      June 1, 2019

      The EU food safety people admit there is no problem with washing chicken, as EU producers do for salad already – it’s just a protectionist pretext to shut out cheaper competition. Rolling back that particular bit of dishonesty is long overdue!

      1. Denis Cooper
        June 1, 2019

        Theresa May could not even bring herself to point out that she had a strong personal interest in ensuring that importation of insulin from the EU would continue uninterrupted and unimpeded, and she would not be ordering our customs officials to unnecessarily hold up batches of the same product from the same suppliers who will still be operating under the same EU law as now when we, but not they, have left the EU, on the contrary she would insist that all medicines currently allowed in from the rest of the EU must still be allowed in without let or hindrance, at least on our part.

        I cannot recall any previous government which so signally failed to defend a core policy from propaganda attacks, and in fact directly or indirectly added to those attacks in order to undermine its own position.

    3. sm
      June 1, 2019

      Grant – do tell us where it states that the UK population will be compelled to purchase US chicken in the event of a trade deal.

    4. Nigl
      June 1, 2019

      Frankly pathetic. Whenever this topic comes up, of all the many thousands of goods and services that this deal will cover, the best you can come up with is chlorinated chicken.

      No one will make us eat it. If people don’t buy it, there will be no market and it will go away.

      1. Fred H
        June 1, 2019

        just like the green sour French apples dumped on us many years ago…..don’t buy – the market dies – no more import. Problem solved.

      2. Fedupsoutherner
        June 1, 2019

        Nig1, I’m sure most people eat it when on holiday in the states and don’t give it a second thought. Its truly snowflake time.

    5. Caterpillar
      June 1, 2019

      Efficient farming (so lower price and choice to move from overly processed food) and alternative health provision – bad?

    6. DaveM
      June 1, 2019

      Chlorine-washed chicken? Seriously? Who gives a toss?

    7. SueW
      June 1, 2019

      Do correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Sir Richard Branson tendering for bits of the NHS?

    8. Ian
      June 1, 2019

      Most of us in The UK are given highly chlorinated water in out taps to shower in, clean our teeth and so on. Its just in the EU generally because of poor animal welfare standards and of course as a trade inhibitor they seek to ban it

    9. jerry
      June 1, 2019

      @Grant; The one thing US citizens are not doing is dying of food poisoning or other problems from ingesting food-safe chemicals, at least at no higher levels than other developed countries, what many US citizens do suffer from that causes early deaths is obesity because food is so cheap – a 3″ think T-bone steaks for what we in the UK pay for a pack of frozen beefburgers anyone….

    10. libertarian
      June 2, 2019


      Please explain what the hell the NHS has to do with trade agreements. Come on I’m fed up hearing this cobblers spouted by people

      We import chlorine washed salad from the EU, our drinking water has chlorine added

      As you won’t answer this, I’ll answer for you. IF , the UK government decided to sell off more of the NHS ( they’ve been offering PFI since 1992) then any company from anywhere in the world can make a bid to buy something. Trade agreements between countries have no effect on this at all. IF the UK government decide NOT to sell off parts of the NHS that currently aren’t privatised then no one anywhere under any circumstance can buy them. There fixed that for you

  5. agricola
    June 1, 2019

    The Donald is right on Huawei. Using them for G5 opens the door. There are alternatives sk why take the risk.

    He is right in placing responsibility for Mexico/US border incursions on Mexico. Mexico is where they come from even if they do not originate there. The only way to concentrate minds in Mexico is to hit their pockets.

    Naturally it does not resonate with the market. The market has one interest, their bottom line. They have no moral or political imperative that motivates them.

    I hope he is given a great welcome in the UK and that the vociferous great unwashed are kept at an inaudible and invisible distance. No doubt the BBC are gearing up to do the opposite and damage our relationship with the USA.

    1. Alastair McIntyre
      June 1, 2019

      And it is past time that we stopped funding a very biased BBC news service. Time for the BBC to take a hit for their biased reporting. Anti Brexit and Anti Trump and who knows what else they are showing bias on. I’ve definitely lost trust in the BBC news service but it’s all I can view from Canada.

      I’ve also said for months now that Trump is very likely to raise tariffs on the EU and was only waiting to see if we left the EU before putting them om place.

      1. jerry
        June 2, 2019

        @Alastair McIntyre; “And it is past time that we stopped funding a very biased BBC news service. [..//..] I’ve definitely lost trust in the BBC news service but it’s all I can view from Canada.”

        Duh?! If you are living in Canada you do not fund the BBC, if you do fund BBC Worldwide then you do so voluntarily via a Canadian subscription (package).

        As for your second paragraph, that I totally agree with, and if we do need to be tied to a post Brexit trade deal it would make more sense to sign up to NAFTA that any EU based FTA.

    2. jerry
      June 1, 2019

      @agricola; “No doubt the BBC are gearing up to do the opposite and damage our relationship with the USA.”

      You can be sure that whatever the BBC does to rubbish Trump both Ch4 and Sky will try to better…

      1. libertarian
        June 2, 2019


        Tru dat , Ch4 and Sky news are bother more openly biased than BBC

  6. georgeP
    June 1, 2019

    We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel if we’re putting all of our hopes on a trade deal with Trumps America. According to Trump parlance the US will do a deal with us, yes, but those old enough to know, and having worked with the Americans over the years, know full well what this means- and it certainly won’t be a deal between equals

    1. agricola
      June 1, 2019

      The inequality is that of UK politicians and civil servants. In any trade discussion with the USA I would want our side to be represented by professional international business negotiators.

      I have no objection to us importing chlorinated chickens or hormone enhanced beef, providing the buying decision in the supermarket is market led. To achieve this I suggest a large Stars & Stripes on each package and the words chlorinated or hormone enhanced be as prominent and as large as the words chicken or beef. The US could not possibly object to their flag, they have one in every front garden.

      The first rule in selling almost anything is that you provide what the customer wants. It is incumbent on the UK to know what it wants and most specifically what it does not want.

    2. Gareth Warren
      June 1, 2019

      In our case, assuming the EU acts to punish us by applying tariffs on our exports, then we can happily trade EU market-share in the UK for free access to the US.

      That costs us nothing, boosts our exports and gives the USA a massive boost to its exports. Such a deal would be so tantalising to US exporters that they would be happy to accept unusually free access to the US to be offered.

      For that reason I would expect the EU would be quite desperate to conclude a FTA with us, but since that FTA would also be an existential threat to the EU they are in a bit of a bind.

      All we need is a government that believes in Britain, unfortunately May’s did not.

    3. Richard
      June 1, 2019

      An example of a deal between equals:
      “Canada has one tenth of the US’s population, and roughly one tenth of its GDP.; the US is arguably the most powerful nation on earth by every measure. The Canada US Free Trade Agreement – and its NAFTA successor – did not harmonise currencies, courts or laws. There is no NAFTA flag, Parliament or anthem. There is no customs union, or equivalent of ‘Norway+’ or any kind of plus this-and-that… Despite this, the two-way goods and services trade between the nations in 2017 totalled US$673.1 billion, with the US enjoying a surplus of US$8.4 billion – the equivalent of US$0.01 per dollar. It almost reaches the ideal for any trade deal – the ever elusive thing known as ‘reciprocity’.”

  7. J Bush
    June 1, 2019

    As I understand it, Trump is calling for a level playing field in trade tariffs. It is not unreasonable to want reciprocal tariffs between 2 trading countries, but for some reason Merkel thinks this is unfair.

    With regard to Mexico, creating a tariff barrier is a peaceful way to make Mexico take responsibility for the control its border with the US.

    Trump may brash and loud, but deviant he isn’t, what you see is what you get. In my opinion this is much more preferable than the insidious antics of the likes of Blair, May and Merkel & Co.

    1. formula57
      June 1, 2019

      @ J Bush “With regard to Mexico…” – these new tariffs (in lieu of the Wall Mr. Trump has difficulty funding?) come whilst Congress is being asked to approve the ever so slightly different NAFTA replacement.

      There is the view that if Mr. Trump is willing to suddenly jeopardize deals he has himself recently negotiated then can he be relied upon at all?

    2. Ian wragg
      June 1, 2019

      Of course Merkel thinks it’s unfair. The EU (France and Germany) think that they can impose their wishes on the rest of the world.
      You only have to read the WA.
      Where is our Donald when we need one.

      1. Fred H
        June 1, 2019

        Well Merkel’s doing quite well so far!

      2. margaret howard
        June 2, 2019

        Ian Wragg

        ” The EU (France and Germany) think that they can impose their wishes on the rest of the world.”

        Seeing that they are two of the founder members of the ‘club’ it is to be expected that they established the rules. Nobody has to join. Countries did because of the success the bloc enjoyed, including ourselves.

        Our own efforts to create similar trading blocs like EFTA were overtaken and in fact most of those members left to join the EU.

        I can’t think of any successful club that would allow johnny come lately members call the tune or rewrite the rules.

        1. Edward2
          June 2, 2019

          Margaret, you are wrong about clubs.
          If you join a club providing you pay your joining fee and annual membership you get a vote.
          That vote can be used to alter rules.
          But the EU is a very odd club where 28 members all have a vote yet only 9 pay any membership fees and the rest just take money and benefits out of the club.

  8. Roy Grainger
    June 1, 2019

    Many of those (Hi Andy !) who tell us the the free-trade region of the EU makes us massively wealthy as a country (and who would ever vote to make themselves poorer ?) will now switch to telling us a free trade deal with the USA would be a very bad thing as we’d be force-fed chlorine-washed chicken free of salmonella. They might struggle to find any evidence-based data from scientific experts to support their strange view, but maybe Mr Stewart’s citizen’s assembly or that poor little schoolgirl might oblige.

  9. Bryan Harris
    June 1, 2019

    It’s indicative of the degree of infiltration of the establishment by socialism that both the socialist London Mayor and the HoC’s Speaker sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to Trump.
    Trump is the most decent, honest US President for many years, and yet he is vilified by those with an opposing agenda. It is a disgrace that these people seek to represent us.

    How does May dare to look Trump in the eye when she did so much to stop him being elected?

  10. Narrow Shoulders
    June 1, 2019

    Mr Trump is welcome to his views and as the democratically elected leader of the USA entitled to pursue the protectionist tough of immigration stance he promised during his campaign. He can trail a free trade agreement with the UK during his visit if he wishes and declare this would be difficult if we remain in the EU as it is fact.

    I do not want to hear his views on the new Conservative party leader or Nigel Farage’s involvement in EU exit anymore than I wanted to be told by Mr Obama that we should stay in the EU.

  11. Alan Joyce
    June 1, 2019

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    It is not only asymmetric tariffs on car trade that the EU and, in particular, Germany benefits from against the USA.

    As some people have pointed out in the past, Germany has the added benefit of price competitiveness within the Euro-currency union because the exchange rate of the euro is weaker than it would be, all things being equal, if it had stayed on the Deutsche Mark.

    Is the EU and the Euro just a German-led racket to take over the whole of Europe or was monetary union led by the French? Another story perhaps, but Germany’s manufacturing industry and trade imbalances in its favour would not be quite so healthy under its own currency.

    1. margaret howard
      June 1, 2019


      On the other hand people around the world might just like to buy German cars and products because of their quality and could not care less about any ‘monetary rackets’.

      There was nothing stopping us doing the same. But after all, would you rather buy a Hotpoint than a Miele, say?

      Green eyed monster?

    2. Simon
      June 1, 2019

      “Sir John” please.

      Basic manners.

  12. Newmania
    June 1, 2019

    R Reagan might easily have taken most of the actual policy decisions Trump has without infuriating and disgusting Liberal opinion around the world . We know all about what his views on Mexicans are and from that there is no way back. Not now, not ever !
    The spectacle of our government grovelling to this man will turn stomachs around the UK including many decent Brexit voters

    1. Roy Grainger
      June 1, 2019

      But you don’t think there ARE any decent Brexit voters do you ? So making up opinions for a group of people you don’t think exist seems doubly odd. The US economy is booming and as you and your chums have told us no one should ever vote for anything that makes them poorer then you would support Trumps re-election wouldn’t you ?

  13. Caterpillar
    June 1, 2019

    Yes UK should pursue free-trade / level playing field as much as possible throughout world be this USA, LDCs or anywhere in between. Was it Priti Patel that wanted to get Trade in the International Development dept title?

  14. MickN
    June 1, 2019

    “The spectacle of our government grovelling to this man will turn stomachs around the UK including many decent Brexit voters”

    Not mine. It is not difficult to see though how hard it must be though for those brought up on liberal elitism. They are struggling with a politician who makes promises to get elected and then implements them when in office. Bring it on I say. That is why I believe Nigel is destined for high office in the not too distant future.
    It might be good if you could allow for that in your mindset so that we don’t all have to drown in snowflake tears when it eventually happens. Oh yes, and Donald Trump will get a second term. You might wish to factor that in too.

  15. Billy Elliot
    June 1, 2019

    I follow with interest this car tariff thing. USA has 25 per cent tax on European made pick ups and light trucks.
    Maybe that will be lowered as well?
    Detroit will not be happy though.

  16. John Probert
    June 1, 2019

    When you think about it the cabinet allowed the Vicar’s daughter to control
    the negotiations about which she new nothing
    The only people with any honour are those that resigned
    The cabinet is Weak and no member of the current cabinet should become PM
    Trump knows how to negotiate it is second nature
    So maybe we should take a lead from him like it or not

  17. MB
    June 1, 2019

    Why doesn’t our government impose tarrifs on goods coming from France and Belgium, until they stop illegal immigrants setting off from those countries in boats to enter England ?
    Oh, I was forgetting that we have a mostly spineless and gutless set of politicians here.

  18. margaret howard
    June 1, 2019


    ” The President is also allowing only 180 days to the Europeans to respond to his claim that the EU in general and Germany in particular are cheating in their trade in cars, with asymmetric tariffs against the USA”

    US economy is on the slide. US banks and business have nowhere else to go except after other peoples wealth and resources

    With the demand for oil reduced and fracking supplying much of their own they might even stop invading Middle Eastern countries to steal their oil. (with our help)

    1. Edward2
      June 2, 2019

      Wrong Margaret .
      The American economy is not on the slide.
      Growth is good with rapidly reducing unemployment and a strong stock exchange.

    2. libertarian
      June 2, 2019

      Margaret howard

      What? The USA has the fastest growing economy in the G7 in the last quarter 3.2% followed by the UK with Germany bringing up the rear with Italy

      Q1 2019 interim GDP stats in (bar Canada), time to update G7 growth figures, esp. for slow leaners (yes, you, Margaret). Change Q1 2019 on Q1 2018:
      US – 3.2%
      UK – 1.8%
      Canada – 1.6% Q4
      France – 1.2%
      Japan – 0.8%
      Germany – 0.7%
      Italy – 0.1%

  19. Trumpeteer
    June 1, 2019

    I prefer to think I understand all that Trump utters. His seemingly open support for certain candidates on our soil is a wonderment. I’m sure he knows America and the UK despises outside endorsements whatever.
    It is no insult to him to say he is up to something. He is a master if not the master of communication and of course our media say(s) he is uneducated and worse. We obviously cannot afford a proper media and have to make do with cast offs.

  20. Simon
    June 1, 2019

    The effect of working tax credits is that any increase in the pitiful min wage is then largely lost in benefits.

  21. Ian
    June 1, 2019

    In part the Mexico situation was brought to Mr Trump’s attention when Ford stopped the majority of its car production in the US. Only the Mustang now remains. However, the Ford customer base remain the US. Meaning Ford contributes to the Mexican economy by taking money from the US consumer. Not sensible economics from a US perspective

  22. BR
    June 1, 2019

    On the NATO front, I suspect that the EU army has something to do with it as well.

    The timing could not be worse, since May is about to leave office and is pro most of the things Trump is anti (and he is here because he wants to discuss that with the UK PM, so it would have been better if he were to come in August when the new PM is known).

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