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Brexit will be 'a great thing'

Trump keen on quick trade deal with UK

US President-elect Donald Trump has declared he wants a new trade deal with the UK, providing a confidence boost ahead of the Brexit talks.

Mr Trump said: “I’m a big fan of the UK, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.”

In an interview with Tory MP Michael Gove, a leader in the Brexit campaign, he said Brexit “is going to end up being a great thing”.

“I’ll tell you, the fact that your pound sterling has gone down? Great. Because business is unbelievable in a lot of parts in the UK.”

The billionaire tycoon, who will be inaugurated as the 45th US President on Friday, criticised the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany”.

For that reason he thought “the UK was so smart in getting out.” Mr Trump backed Brexit in the run-up to the EU referendum in June.

Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Mr Trump in Washington next month.

Mr Trump said: “She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House … we’re gonna get something done very quickly.”

He predicted that more countries would seek to follow Britain’s example and quit the EU.

“I believe others will leave,” he said. “If refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe . . . I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

He said called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policies on immigration “a catastrophic mistake”.

Hard Brexit option hardens

Back home, Mrs May will deliver a speech on Tuesday in which she is expected to prioritise immigration controls and bilateral trade deals in a “hard Brexit” that would see Britain leave the EU’s single market and customs union.

Mrs May intends to launch by the end of March the formal process of negotiating the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU, but has so far given very little away about what deal she will be seeking.

Se is likely to call for an end to the acrimonious debate between ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’ and all the accompanying insults.

She said last week that post-Brexit Britain would not be able to keep “bits” of its EU membership.

Sterling weakens

The pound fell sharply as the comment was interpreted as signalling a clean break from the EU’s single market – the biggest destination for British exports.

Last night sterling slid to three-month lows in Asia. The pound sank 1.6% to as low as $1.1983, a level not seen since the flash crash of October, having finished around $1.2175 in New York on Friday.

Despite Mrs May’s calls for unity, divisions appeared to be widening, particularly after Chancellor Philip Hammond’s comments to a German newspaper on the implications of a ‘hard Brexit” option.

Scottish reaction

Commenting, the SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said: “We now have it in black and white from the Chancellor — a Tory hard Brexit means 80,000 Scottish jobs lost, worse living standards and an erosion of employment rights. 

“And still the Tories remain entirely set on going down that dangerous path, in what would be an act of wanton recklessness on an industrial scale. “

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Alex Rowley said of the ‘hard Brexit” reports: “”These reports are worrying. We will work to get the best Brexit deal for Scotland within the UK.

“It’s in the best interests of the UK to have access to the European single market. Economic migration has been good for Scotland and looking forward we need to continue with economic migration to Scotland.

“We will work with the Scottish Government to get the best deal for Scotland within the UK.”

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