Trade leaks show Trump has already pushed us into a more damaging Brexit

Trade leaks show Trump has already pushed us into a more damaging Brexit

By: Jean Blaylock
Date: 3 December 2019
Campaigns: Trade

Boris Johnson knows his Brexit deal is worse for the UK economy – but Trump is calling the shots. That is clearly revealed in a set of leaked papers detailing trade talks between US and UK officials over the last three years.

The documents show how the US administration has already successfully bullied Britain into taking a harder Brexit position, which is good for Trump’s geopolitical games and US big business, but bad for Britain’s economy and British welfare. The US wants the UK to adopt US standards and regulations so that it is easier for US corporations to move into the UK market, and for that they need the UK to break with EU standards.

From the very first meeting, the papers show US officials speaking dismissively of any reason for the UK to “take on all the EU’s ‘dirty laundry'” [1]. They even threaten that if the UK continued to push certain EU positions in international forums [2] – something the UK is still bound to do – it could undermine negotiations on a US trade deal.

Papers from the time of Theresa May’s ‘Chequers plan’ [3] are illuminating because the Trump administration is clearly furious at May’s promise of long-term alignment with EU standards which would prevent the dilution of British food regulations which US agribusiness hopes to benefit from. US negotiators saw this as a “worst case scenario” [4] and threatened to raise it with Trump ahead of his UK visit.

The most recent papers [5] make clear that the US is still hammering home the same message. This echoes comments that Trump has made, confirming this was not an off-hand comment but a deliberate, long-term tactic on the part of the US administration.

One of the most significant changes which Johnson made to May’s Brexit deal was a weakening of the alignment to EU standards, suggesting US bullying worked. But it is particularly worrying that economic modelling seen by the trade officials showed this was likely to be good for the US, but much less so for “UK welfare and GDP gains.” [6].

Beyond the issue of Brexit, the US dominates the talks in these papers at every level. They dictate what should be discussed, what they want included in a trade deal, how the deal should be done, and explain the meaning of terminology to their UK counterparts. The power imbalance is clear.

In fact, modelling also showed a trade might not be good for the public at all – both here and in the US, saying “benefits tend to filter through to company profit margins rather than a full pass-through rate to consumers” [7].

We need to stop this toxic trade deal:



[1] p22

[2] p35


[4] p26

[5] p2

[6] p99

[7] p79