**Theresa May joins G20 summit to face Brexit warnings from US and Japan
Theresa May has had a difficult start to the G20 summit as President Barack Obama said the UK would not be the priority for a US trade deal and Japan issued an unprecedented 15-page warning about the consequences of Brexit.
The prime minister had been hoping to pitch the UK as a global leader in free trade during her first major outing on the world stage at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.
However, she was immediately confronted with harsh warnings about the consequences of leaving the EU and diplomatic tensions with the Chinese over her concerns about their involvement in UK nuclear power.
After her first bilateral meeting with Obama, May was warned that the US wanted to focus on trade negotiations with the EU and a bloc of pacific nations before considering a deal with the UK.
This was swiftly followed by a message from Japan to the UK that there could be a string of corporate exits from the UK unless some of the privileges that come with access to the single market are maintained.**
The lengthy document from Tokyo gives a list of possible consequences of Brexit and a series of specific requests from Japanese businesses. About half of Japanese investment in the EU comes to the UK, including from companies such as Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nomura and Daiwa.
“Japanese businesses with their European headquarters in the UK may decide to transfer their head-office function to continental Europe if EU laws cease to be applicable in the UK after its withdrawal,” the report concludes.
It says: “In light of the fact that a number of Japanese businesses, invited by the government in some cases, have invested actively to the UK, which was seen to be a gateway to Europe, and have established value-chains across Europe, we strongly request that the UK will consider this fact seriously and respond in a responsible manner to minimise any harmful effects on these businesses.”
Asked whether he stood by his warnings against Brexit and claim that Britain would go to the back of the queue when it comes to trade deals, Obama repeated his belief that the world would benefit from the UK being a member of the EU.
“I’ve committed to Theresa that we will consult closely with her as she and her government move forward on Brexit negotiations to make sure we don’t see adverse effects in our trading and commercial relationship. Obviously there is an enormous amount of trade that already takes place … That is not going to stop. And we are going to do everything we can to make sure the consequences of the decision don’t end up unravelling what is already a very strong and robust economic relationship.
“But first things first. The first task is figuring out what Brexit means with respect to Europe. And our first task is making sure we go forward on TTIP negotiations in which we have already invested a lot of time and effort.”
It comes after the prime minister warned on her flight to China that there would be “difficult times ahead” for the economy after leaving the EU