oris Johnson has admitted he is not close to concluding a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK, although the Leave campaign trumpeted such a deal to win voters in 2016.
After more than 90 minutes of discussions with Joe Biden at the White House, the Prime Minister conceded Wednesday that he is currently seeking only “gradual steps” to trade with America.
The US president’s stance is a big blow to Mr Johnson on Brexit, especially as major Brexiteers have argued that it would be easy to strike a trade deal with the United States.
Mr Biden also warned the prime minister not to jeopardize the peace deal between Northern Ireland and Brussels over a protocol on trade across the Irish Sea.
Speaking to reporters outside the United States Capitol in Washington, the Prime Minister conceded, “The Biden administration is not making free trade deals around the world right now, but I have absolutely everything. trust that there is much to do.
“And there are a lot of people in this building behind me who definitely want a deal.”
Forty-seven percent of voters say that in hindsight the UK was wrong to leave the EU, and 40 percent think it’s right, according to a YouGov poll conducted last week before the setback. ‘an American trade agreement.
Seeking to highlight some progress in trade relations, Mr Johnson welcomed the news that the ban on imports of British lamb into the United States would be lifted.
“I can tell you today that what we are going to get from the US now is a decades-old, utterly unwarranted lifting of the ban that discriminates against UK farmers and lamb. British, ”he said.
“It was about time too. And what we want to do is take solid and progressive steps in the trade.
Less than 24 hours after the two leaders met at the White House, a Cabinet minister on Wednesday risked fueling the transatlantic dispute by declaring that the US president was “wrong” on a key element of the Brexit settlement.
Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested Mr Biden did not “fully” appreciate the details of the Northern Ireland protocol, which is a “very complicated deal” and which he had probably “just read the headlines “from Brussels and Dublin.
An American source told the Evening Standard: “Following a successful bilateral visit, where we are aligned on the climate and so many other issues, I am a little baffled to hear a government minister say that the President of the United States is ‘wrong’. Is this the position of Her Majesty’s government? “
Sources in Whitehall quickly sought to correct the view that the government viewed Mr Biden as “wrong” about Northern Ireland.
One of them said: “We absolutely agree that nothing should undermine the Belfast Accord. We are working to find a lasting solution, which may not be the solution advocated by the EU. “
Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry said: “After all his bragging and promises, Boris Johnson is back to square one, at the end of the queue for a US trade deal, and all because of his contempt for the Northern Ireland Protocol which he himself negotiated.
Amid the transatlantic standoff, Eustice did not rule out that the government could fail to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States before the next general election, expected in 2024. He admitted that this was not a “priority” for the White House. .
Mr Biden poured cold water on the prospects for a quick trade deal after Brexit on Tuesday. He did not deny former President Barack Obama’s assertion that Britain is “at the back of the pack” for a free trade agreement.
Mr Biden also issued a new warning to the UK not to undermine the peace process in Northern Ireland as it clashes with Brussels over trade ties across the Irish Sea. However, Mr Eustice claimed the President did not fully understand the details of the Northern Ireland protocol.
He told Sky News: “I think he’s probably reading the headlines, reading what the EU is saying, reading what Ireland might say, which is what ‘they would like the Northern Ireland Protocol to work the way the EU sees it.
“We think he is wrong because the truth is that if we do not have a lasting solution that allows trade to continue between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we will have problems, which in them- even would become a challenge for the Belfast Accord. “
Mr Eustice said around 60 trade deals have been reached since Brexit, including a tentative deal with Australia.
Sitting next to Mr Johnson in the Oval Office, Mr Biden made it clear that a Brexit trade deal with the United States was not on the agenda. He told reporters: “We’re going to talk a little bit about trade today and we’ll have to fix it.”
Mr Johnson briefed the President on “developments” in the protocol since their meeting in Cornwall in June. Proud of his Irish heritage, Mr Biden said he felt “very strongly” about the issues surrounding the peace process as problems with the Northern Ireland protocol persisted.