Lord Heseltine has suggested that international fallout could play Brexit towards Remainers’ terms
In a scathing attack on the UK’s bid to leave the European Union, the outspoken Remainer suggested the catalyst of a trade war with the US President could push the UK to remain in the bloc.
At an event attended by the Express.co.uk, Lord Heseltine said the chaos sparked by international fall-out could over metals could play into Remainers’ hands.
Speaking before President’s announcement, the Tory grandee said: “My principle interest at this moment is to keep alive the thought that Brexit is not inevitable.
“Sir John Curtice said that while there has been a shift to remain, it is not a substantial shift but one of the reasons for that is there hasn’t been a significant event that punches you in the solar plexus with their simplicity.
“Although Donald Trump’s potential trade war beginning to get quite close to something that people will understand if it is implemented and the consequences it could have.
“But by and large the Government has been quite skilful in defusing the big potential issues.
“I don’t think that people are following the debate of what Brexit actually means, they are fed up and they want change and they’ve got the decision and they’re going to stick with it come hell and high water.”
Speaking at the Royal Institute of British Architects event, Lord Heseltine’s comments come as President Trump has signed proclamations to impose steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.
Lord Heseltine hopes to keep alive the notion that ‘Brexit is not inevitable’
My principle interest at this moment is to keep alive the thought that Brexit is not inevitable
Mr Trump set import tariffs last night of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium but exempted Canada and Mexico and offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier stance.
Experts fear the move could spark a trade war between the European Union and the US, which EU chiefs saying they would react firmly with WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US.
The EU warned that if it was not considered a Trump ally then it would take matters into its own hands.
EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the world’s biggest trading bloc, said she shared USA concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector but did not believe in tariffs as a way to solve the problem.
Lord Heseltine spoke about Trump’s tariffs at an event hosted by the UK in a Changing Europe
“Europe is certainly not a threat to American internal security so we expect to be excluded,” Malmstrom told reporters before speaking at a conference in Brussels.
Asked at the conference whether she was ready to react if the 28-country EU was included in the US tariffs, Ms Malmstrom said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the international trade arbiter, to impose the bloc’s own safeguards within 90 days.
She added: ”We have been very clear that (the U.S. decision) is not in compliance with the WTO, so we will go to the WTO, possibly with some other friends. We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures, safeguards.”
Meanwhile, the European Council President Donald Tusk earlier this week said: ““There is a risk of serious dispute between the United States and the rest of the world, including the EU.
“President Trump has recently said, and I quote ‘trade wars are good and easy to win’ – but the truth is quite opposite.
“Trade wars are bad and easy to lose. For this reason, I strongly believe now is the time for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to act responsibly.”
Over the weekend Theresa May also expressed fears over Mr Trump’s plan.
Donald Tusk was adamantly against assertions that a trade war was a good thing
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister raised our deep concern at the President’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests.”
However, the Prime Minister still remains confident the UK will secure a trade deal with the US after Brexit despite new tariffs.
Mrs May’s spokesman later added: “I think both the President and the Prime Minister have been clear on the importance of reaching a post-Brexit bilateral trade deal.”