Nigel Farage has claimed it will take Britain “48 hours” to do a free trade deal with Donald Trump’s United States after Brexit, as negotiations for the Brext deal come close to entering their second year.
Speaking in the European Parliament the former Ukip leader, who is still an MEP, decried the Government’s plan for a transition period during which no trade deals could be signed and said the UK was Mr Trump’s “best ally in the world”.
“In this USA dispute we now find ourselves trapped, impotent, unable to act. We need to be free – we voted Brexit, we voted to make our own trade policy, our own trade decisions,” he told MEPs.
“We could do a deal with America in 48 hours. Just yesterday the Trump administration were describing us as their best ally in the world.
“Mrs May, we did not vote for a transition period – we voted to leave this organisation, we voted to leave the customs union, we voted to leave the single market.
“So please Mrs May, at this summit next week, do what Trump has done, stand strong against the European Commission, the unelected bullies.”
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who was in the chamber at the time Mr Farage made his remarks, told The Independent after the session that the Ukip MEP was wrong.
“Farage hasn’t got a clue. His suggestion was met with derision and laughter by MEPs who work daily on trade deals,” she said.
“President Trump said make America great again, not Britain. Mr Farage should care about what’s best for Britain, not Donald Trump.”
At the start of the year Mr Trump promised a “great” trade deal with the UK, predicting a “tremendous increase” in trade between the two countries.
Trade experts have however warned that in order to gain better access to US markets the UK would have to open itself up to US multinational companies, including agricultural businesses exporting chlorinated chicken and other controversial products.
Mr Farage’s comments about a trade deal recall those of Conservative International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who last year told Tory conference he would have 40 trade deals ready to sign “the second” after Brexit in March 2019.
Mr Fox however also claimed that doing a trade deal with the EU would be “the easiest in human history”.
Mr Farage also used Tuesday European Parliament session in Strasbourg to attack the “bullying” EU and argue that Mr Trump was taking it on by imposing steel and aluminium tariffs on European goods.
“The EU is bullying us, it bullies member states, it bullies its next-door neighbours, it even bullies the third world with its neo-colonial policies,” he said.
“Of course it does, because the Europe of the Junckers, the Barniers, the Selmayrs is power without accountability. Well, at long last you’ve met your match in Donald Trump.”