Wednesday 9 November 2016 5:34 pm

What does Trump's win mean for Brexit? MPs are concerned but determined to press on with business

MPs are calling on Donald Trump to clarify his remarks on the US-UK relationship after the Republican candidate won the Presidential election.

Politicians across the spectrum were shocked at today's results and what it could mean for the future of the so-called special relationship, but many were positive that the UK would now be at the "front of the queue" for a future trade deal with the US.

Brexiteers were quick to warn that there should be no rowing back on Brexit – and the result of the election proved voters had rejected the status quo.

The President-elect predicted that the US election would be "Brexit times ten" and was confident his win would shake up the political establishment. Trump supported the UK's exit from the European Union, one of the few politicians around the world to do so, and slapped down President Obama who said the UK could be "at the back of the queue" for a trade deal after Brexit.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said Trump's comments were "more positive than the hostile approach taken by Obama".

Read more: Clinton says Americans have a role to play in holding Trump to account

"President Trump might not be to our taste, but we must calculate our national interest," Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP, told City A.M.. "He will not put logs on the track in front of Brexit in the same way Clinton might have."

He added that there was likely to be "more common ground than people might imagine between May's concern about the economic disenfranchisement of the British working class and what has propelled Trump to the presidency". 

Trump is likely to be interested in the future of the UK – after all he does have some of his hotel and golf course business here in the country.

Jenkin acknowledged that there could be challenges along the way, however. "It may be difficult, but you don't become prime minister unless you're prepared to deal with difficult."

James Cleverly, the Brexit-backer and Conservative MP for Braintree, hoped that a Trump Presidency will see reparation of the US-UK relationship.

"He said explicitly that the UK will be at the front of the queue when it comes to a trade deal," Cleverly said. "He personally has significant business interests in the UK. What we need to do is to help him sell the message of global free trade to the American people and make sure we cement ourselves at the front of the queue for a deal."

Read more: Could a Trump presidency be good for the stock markets?

"We can still play a role as a gateway to Europe with the US; geographically we are still going to be just off the coast," he added.

But others have expressed grave concerns about Trump's commitment to global organisations like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and NATO.

"The ball is in his court, he needs to make clear if he will support the WTO NATO, free trade, or not," said Eurosceptic MP Steve Baker. "President Trump has a lot to do to reassure us that a rules based global order will continue."

He added that Trump was proof that there was something "very wrong with the way the world has been working for tens of millions of people", and that governments and financial markets were to blame for using expansionary money to fill the gaps in what was promised to the people. "If you do that… you undermine people's faith in the market economy and you promote political radicalism in the US and Europe."

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour's shadow City minister, said that the US election result could make New York a less favourable option for businesses thinking of relocating, but that Trump's win could also see a UK-EU trade deal take longer than planned if the West fragments.

"Sound business principles are part of the solution," he said. "[Trump] has this businessman image, wanting to do deals, that seems very much at odds with his rhetoric on trade deals like TTIP."

Thomas Raines, a foreign policy researcher at Chatham House, said he could not see much good news for the UK in terms of a Trump presidency.

"There was a view that the US under Clinton could be a useful advocate for a deal between UK [that would create] the least economic disruption as possible," he told City A.M. "She cared about the unity of the west, the unity of the EU."

On the other hand, Trump and the UK are likely to clash on a range of issues, he added.

"He's just run a campaign about how bad free trade is, the idea he is now going to be the great champion seems a bit far-fetched. The idea that out of that anti-trade environment, somehow, magically a generous deal is going to emerge, seems hard to believe."


Many MPs say it is too early to tell what Trump's real plans are for his foreign policy.

"Donald Trump has set out very few of his plans, but then again the UK have set our very few of their plans for leaving the European Union," said Stephen Gethins, the SNP's Europe spokesperson.