Trump says Brexit agreement may hamper U.S.-British trade; UK differs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday the agreement allowing the United Kingdom to leave the European Union may make trade between Washington and London more difficult, but the UK prime minister’s office disputed his interpretation.

Trump told reporters outside the White House that the deal sounded like it would be good for the European Union, but “I think we have to take a look seriously whether or not the UK is allowed to trade.

“Because right now if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us,” he said. “And that wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t think they meant that.”

He said he hoped British Prime Minister Theresa May would be able to address the problem, but he did not specify which provision of the deal he was concerned about.

A spokeswoman for May’s office said the agreement struck with the EU allowed the UK to sign trade deals with countries throughout the world, including with the United States.

“We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the U.S. through our joint working groups, which have met five times so far,” the spokeswoman said.

Under the deal secured with EU leaders on Sunday, the UK will leave the bloc in March with continued close trade ties. But the odds look stacked against May getting it approved by a divided British parliament.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Writing by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Susan Thomas and Peter Cooney