Trump `Trade Wars' Tweet Awkward for May Outlining Brexit Vision

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s warning that “trade wars are good and easy to win” comes at an awkward time for the U.K., where Theresa May on Friday laid out her vision for life outside the European Union.

The promise of trade deals with major economies including the U.S. and China underpin Brexit supporters’ argument that Britain will be better off leaving its biggest trading partner. But opponents will say Trump’s comments show the value of safety in numbers. They argue that the U.S. would be less likely to enter a trade war with the EU, which accounts for a third of world trade -- and as much as 15 percent even when trade between member states is excluded.

“By leaving the EU, the U.K. will have control over trade deals with non-EU countries, but is likely to have less clout in negotiating deals that are in its long-term interest,” said Niraj Shah of Bloomberg Economics. “The EU will also be about a fifth smaller without the U.K. This is likely to prove a lose-lose for all concerned.”

In her fourth Brexit keynote speech, the U.K. prime minister pledged that leaving the EU won’t destroy jobs, and called for the “broadest and deepest possible agreement” with the EU. She also included a not-so-subtle dig at Trump: “In the face of a worrying rise in protectionism, I believe such agreements can enable us to set an example to the world.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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