Boris Johnson returned from the US this week boasting that the UK was now ‘first in line’ for a trade deal with the US. He said that the Trump team and the new Congress ‘want to do it fast’.
But as I write in The Sun this morning, the situation is even more advanced than this. I understand that the Trump team is already working on the outlines of a US / UK trade deal. Interestingly, they want the deal to be pencilled in before the UK leaves the EU, though the UK could not formally sign it until it has left the bloc.
The US’s keenness for a trade deal with the UK strengthens the case for the UK leaving the customs union. Inside the customs union, Britain is not able to do its own comprehensive trade deals. Opinion in government is now leaning towards leaving the customs union and instead seeking a customs arrangement with the EU to try and keep trade as smooth as possible.
Combine the Trump news with The Guardian’s splash this morning that Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, wants a ‘special’ deal to guarantee EU’s states access to the City of London’s financial markets post-Brexit and May has a strong backdrop for her big Brexit speech on Tuesday.