US trade deal this summer
HOPES are high in the US that a blockbuster interim trade deal can be agreed with the UK by the summer, ahead of the US presidential election.
Sources involved in the campaign to re-elect Donald Trump have told the Sunday Express they expect Boris Johnson to visit the US early in February – days after Brexit on January 31 – as “a sign of the renewed relationship”.
Last night it was reported he could be given the honour of addressing both Houses of Congress, only the sixth British prime minister to do so.
The President’s team are keen for the PM to arrive ahead of Mr Trump’s State of the Union address on February 4. A campaign committee source said: “It would be great if we can have Boris there as a guest of honour. It will be a real signal of what is to come this year.
“Boris and the President have a really good relationship so as soon as Brexit has happened the talks for a trade deal between the two countries can get going. There is no reason why an interim deal can’t be done for the summer, with some eye-catching agreements which will help both the President and Prime Minister.”
Mr Trump has been a strong international supporter of Brexit and partly put his own victory down to the Brexit effect, with his 2016 election win coming just months after Britain voted to Leave the EU.
He has regularly promised a “great” trade deal and last month, US ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson said Mr Johnson’s recent election victory had given Britain “an amazing opportunity”, paving the way for a huge boost in trade between the two nations. Republicans in Washington have been pressing for support for a UK trade deal, believing that by linking the City of
London with the financial markets in New York, the UK and US can dominate world financial services. Meanwhile, there have been reports that Mr Johnson’s cabinet is split over whether to focus on the EU negotiations or push for parallel talks with the US. But senior Tory MPS and Brexiteers have made it clear that Mr Johnson must start talks with the US at the same time as the EU. Writing in today’s Sunday Express, former cabinet minister Owen Paterson, who met Mr Trump last year, said that the PM “must act now” on a US trade deal. He writes: “It will be enormously beneficial for both countries.”
Another leading Brexiteer and former cabinet minister, David Jones, said: “It’s very important that the first act is to go and see President Trump. It will be important symbolically.
“We must work in parallel on a trade deal with the
Americans but also look to other opportunities such as Australia and New Zealand.”
The need to ensure the Government focuses on US trade talks and does not allow the EU to dictate the next nine months of talks is seen as the primary reason to keep the European Research Group of pro-brexit Tory MPS running.
There have been claims pressure has been put on the ERG to disband after January 31, but MPS have told the Sunday Express that there will still be a role for it. Its AGM takes place on January 28 when its future will be discussed. One senior ERG member, North West Leicestershire MP Andrew
Bridgen, said: “We are all very happy with what the Prime Minister has done so far.
“But we have to ensure that the Government does not make any silly compromises.
“Also, we have to push the case for the US trade deal. The Prime Minister has to get out there as soon as possible.”
While an interim deal by the summer would help Mr Trump’s election chances in November, it would also be a boost to the UK by giving an early indication of the benefits of Brexit. It would also mean that there would be greater pressure on the EU to compromise, to continue to have free access to the world’s fifth biggest economy. Splits have already emerged in the EU over its tactics, with the Hungarian government leading the way in demanding a more flexible approach and “no repeat of the mistakes of the last European commission” in its handling of Brexit.
Ireland has also come out against the commission claim that a deal cannot be done by the end of 2020.
Mr Johnson has made it clear that he will not extend the transition period beyond this year so the UK will leave the EU with no deal if the EU fails to compromise.
BORIS JOHNSON is proving to be a man on a mission. Having managed to smash down Labour’s red wall for that historic general election victory last month, he is busy taking the proverbial sledgehammer to all the other blockages in our political system.
With Labour and the Remainers now out of the way, Brexit really can be done and will be done by January 31.
But what is clearer now more than ever before is that post-brexit Britain is going to be a great place to live.
The soundings coming from across the Atlantic from our friends in the US show that the Trump administration does not just want us to get Brexit done, it wants Britain and the US to get the trade deal done as soon as possible. And they are right.
As Owen Paterson today indicates in this newspaper, that trade deal should not just be an adjunct or an afterthought to the EU talks, it should in many ways be the Government’s main focus.
Yes, we want good relations with Europe but linking the UK and US economies – the world’s two biggest financial centres – is the real prize.
And it is common sense to realise that a US deal will put pressure on the EU to compromise.
It is in both Donald Trump’s electoral and Britain’s economic interests to have an interim deal by the summer.
The danger is that the Democrats have taken a pro-eu stance and would put Britain
“at the back of the queue”, as Barack Obama once phrased it, should their candidate win in November.
So there can be no delay.the Prime Minister needs to be over inwashington the week after Brexit and show the world that Britain truly does mean business.
POLITICAL ALLIES: Donald Trump and Boris Johnson