Leo Varadkar talked of a looming “trade war” between Westminster and Washington and drew a scathing comparison to Leavers’ hopeful talk of a new ‘Global Britain’ outside the EU.
There is a growing diplomatic rift between Britain and the US over the latter’s decision to slap UK-based aircraft manufacturer Bombardier with a 291 per cent import tariff.
The US Department of Commerce ruled that the firm had received unfair state aid following a complaint by its direct competitor Boeing, which is an American company.
But Theresa May immediately hit back by warning that if the decision is not reversed Boeing could itself face being cut off from lucrative defence contracts in Britain worth billions of pounds.
Some high-profile Remainers have pointed out that the row provides evidence of the dangers of life outside the EU, where Britain will be able to forge its own trade deals rather than negotiating them collectively.
Asked what he thought of the situation, and whether it may act to temper the UK’s ambitious trade vision, Mr Varadkar said: “I think it could well turn out to be a lesson for the UK.
“When the Brexit referendum went through, and certainly in the months since, then there’s been a lot of talk about a new trade deal between the UK and the US and how great that would be for the UK and yet we’re now talking about the possibility of a trade war.”
Mr Varadkar made the remarks as he arrived for an informal summit of all 28 EU leaders in Tallinn, Estonia, at which they were set to discuss the bloc’s future including its own packed trade agenda.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly stressed his desire to sign a trade deal with the UK as soon as possible after Brexit, but some commentators has speculated the Bombardier stand-off could put the dampers on that.
His new ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood Johnson, offered little reassurance to workers whose jobs could be under threat this week when he only pledged to “continue to follow closely” the situation following a meeting with Mrs May.
The issue is especially sensitive as Bombardier employs 4,000 people in Northern Ireland, where the PM is dependent on the DUP’s support to prop up her Government.
She has made a personal plea to Mr Trump to step in and resolve the matter and has also ordered her ministers to “engage intensively” with Washington and representatives from Boeing.
Earlier this month Australian senator James Paterson told express.co.uk he believed the UK could benefit from being a free trading nation once more just like his own country has.
The Liberal MP pointed out that “small and remote” Australia has built up enviable wealth from trading around the globe without being part of any “supranational” project that sucks away sovereignty.
He said: “Australia is a small country and an open trading country and that’s how we’re prosperous. We’re remote from most of the population of the world and we have a small population of our own.
“Without trade we’d be hugely impoverished, but with trade we’ve been extremely prosperous. We’ve been very aggressive on the free trade front and we have free trade agreements with nearly all our major trading partners.”