Trump says May’s Brexit plan would kill UK-US trade deal

She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on, Trump said. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Trump says May’s Brexit plan would kill UK-US trade deal

  • Trump told the Sun newspaper that he had advised May on how to conduct Brexit negotiations
  • May’s government is trying to satisfy Britons who voted for their country to leave the EU

LONDON: US President Donald Trump lobbed a verbal hand grenade into Theresa May’s carefully constructed plans for Brexit Thursday, saying the British leader had wrecked the country’s exit from the European Union and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States.
Trump, who making his first presidential visit to Britain, told the Sun newspaper that he had advised May on how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”
“She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on,” the president said.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid published an interview with Trump as May was hosting him at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Britain’s World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill — the leader who coined the term “special relationship” for the trans-Atlantic bond.
The Sun said the interview was conducted Thursday in Brussels, before Trump traveled to Britain. Trump made his remarks on Brexit the same day May’s government published long-awaited proposals for Britain’s relations with the EU after it leaves the bloc next year.
The long-awaited document proposes keeping Britain and the EU in a free market for goods, with a more distant relationship for services.
The plan has infuriated fervent Brexit supporters, who think it would limit Britain’s ability to strike new trade deals around the world. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis both quit the government this week in protest.
Trump came down firmly on the side of the Brexiteers, saying what May proposed would hurt the chances of a future trade deal between the UK and the United States.
“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said.
He said “the deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.”
In fact, much of Britain’s division over Brexit — which has split the governing Conservative party and the public at large — stems from the June 2016 referendum on withdrawing from the EU not including language about would come next.
May’s government is trying to satisfy Britons who voted for their country to leave the bloc, but to set an independent course without hobbling businesses, security agencies and other sectors that are closely entwined with the EU.
May insisted earlier Thursday that her plan was exactly what Britons had voted for in the 2016 referendum.
“They voted for us to take back control of our money, our law and our borders,” she said. “That is exactly what we will do.”
In another blow to May, Trump said her now ex-foreign secretary “would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
May and Trump are scheduled to hold talks and a joint news conference on Friday.
Trump’s interview easily could overshadow the government’s attempt to lay out plans for what it calls a “principled and pragmatic” Brexit.
Britain is currently part of the EU’s single market — which allows for the frictionless flow of goods and services among the 28 member states — and its tariff-free customs union for goods. That will end after the UK leaves the bloc in March.
The plans laid out Thursday in a 98-page government paper gave Britain’s most detailed answer yet to the question of what will replace them.
Under the blueprint, Britain would stick to a “common rulebook” with the EU for goods and agricultural products in return for free trade, without tariffs or border customs checks. Such an approach would avoid disruption to automakers and other manufacturers that source parts from multiple countries.
The government said Britain would act “as if in a combined customs territory” with the EU, using technology at its border to determine whether goods from third countries were bound for Britain or the EU, and charging the appropriate tariffs in those cases.
Britain says that will solve the problem of maintaining an open border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and EU member Ireland.
Free trade would not apply to services, which account for 80 percent of the British economy. The government said that would give Britain “freedom to chart our own path,” though it would mean less access to EU markets than there is now.
The plan also seeks to keep Britain in major EU agencies, including the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Medicines Agency and the police agency Europol.
When the UK leaves the EU, it will end the automatic right of EU citizens to live and work in Britain. But Britain said EU nationals should be able to travel visa-free to Britain for tourism or “temporary business,” and there should be measures allowing young people and students to work and study in Britain.
Other elements likely to anger Brexit-backers are Britain’s willingness to pay the EU for access to certain agencies and the suggestion some EU citizens could continue to work in Britain visa-free.
And while Britain will no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice — a longtime bugbear of Brexit supporters — British courts would “pay due regard” to European court case law in relevant cases under the proposals.
Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg colorfully described the plan as “the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200.”
Pro-EU lawmakers, in contrast, think the proposed post-Brexit ties with the bloc are not close enough.


Wife of former Malaysian PM Najib to be questioned by anti-corruption agency

Updated 25 September 2018
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Wife of former Malaysian PM Najib to be questioned by anti-corruption agency

  • Rosmah was first questioned in June in connection with the investigation
  • A source familiar with the investigation said Rosmah would be questioned in connection with the 1MDB probe

KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, was summoned on Tuesday for questioning by the anti-graft agency in its multi-billion dollar corruption probe at state fund 1MDB.
It was the second time Rosmah, 66, has been called in by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) since the shock defeat of Najib in the May general election.
Rosmah was first questioned in June in connection with the investigation, which is looking into allegations of corruption and misappropriation in state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Her husband has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust.
The former first lady was served with a notice on Tuesday afternoon to appear before MACC the next day, her lawyer K.Kumaraendran said, adding that she was asked to assist with investigations under the anti-money laundering act.
A source familiar with the investigation said Rosmah would be questioned in connection with the 1MDB probe.
After filing fresh charges against Najib last week, Azam Baki, the deputy commissioner of the anti-graft agency, said more charges could be brought against individuals over 1MDB.
When asked if Rosmah could face charges, he said: “I’m not denying that.”
Rosmah’s penchant for designer handbags, watches and jewelry raised eyebrows in Malaysia, with opponents asking how she was able to afford the luxury items on her husband’s government salary.
She has drawn comparisons to Imelda Marcos, who left behind more than 1,200 pairs of shoes when her husband Ferdinand Marcos was ousted as president of the Philippines in 1986.
Najib and Rosmah have both been barred from leaving the country since the former’s election defeat, and their home and other properties linked to them have been searched by the police as part of the 1MDB investigations.
The haul seized from the properties included 567 handbags, 423 watches and 12,000 pieces of jewelry.
Najib has said most of the seized items were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.
The US Department of Justice has alleged more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and that about $680 million ended up in Najib’s personal bank account. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.