Britain will find it “easy” to sign a free trade deal with the United States after Brexit, Lord Mandelson has predicted.
The former Labour cabinet minister said Donald Trump would be eager to strike an agreement to reward the UK for helping to break-up the EU.
But the pro-Remain former EU trade commissioner warned that the deal would be a “shallow” agreement that was purely political in nature that would “create next to no new trade”.
Speaking to university students at UCL in central-London on Monday evening, Lord Mandelson said negotiating trade deals with the US was “horrible”.
“They are big, they are rude, they are aggressive and there is only one way they are interested and that is the American way,” he said.
“They will always, by means of persuasion and bullying and occasionally brute force tell you that you are underperforming, insufficiently ambitious or asking for too much with too little in return.”
However Lord Mandelson said his discussions in Washington led him to believe a “big, politically driven, highly optical, trade deal revealed”.
“The policy of the administration is to encourage the break up of the EU. And therefore Brexit is a godsend. So they will want to reward Britain for playing a part in breaking up the EU,” he said. “It will be an easy deal, but it won’t be ambitious.”
He added: “There is going to be a very difficult negotiation, but in the end it will be fairly shallow and extremely optical.”
Lord Mandelson also said he “very worried” President Trump could take the US out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“I don’t think there will be much to hold him back from walking out of the WTO,” he said. “If North Korea continues to go seriously pear-shaped and there is serious falling out between the US and China I think that would carry the risk of the trade war. I think the WTO will be collateral damage.”