G7 summit: Trump expects to strike 'very big trade deal' with UK after it is freed from 'anchor' of EU

US president hails Boris Johnson as 'right man for the job' as the pair meet at the G7 summit in Biarritz

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor, in Biarritz
Sunday 25 August 2019 10:24
Comments
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump say trade deal could happen 'quickly'

Donald Trump has said he expects to strike “a very big trade deal” with the UK after Britain has freed itself from the “anchor” of EU membership.

The US president and Boris Johnson agreed the creation of a “special relationship economic working group” to drive forward a deal, despite the prime minister’s admission that an agreement will not be “plain sailing”.

Mr Trump hailed Mr Johnson as “the right man for the job” of delivering Brexit as the two men held their first face-to-face talks since his arrival in Downing Street, on the margin of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.

But Johnson described his own approach as “sheeplike” as he urged the president to de-escalate his trade war with China.

Speaking before talks over a breakfast of scrambled eggs and veal sausages at Biarritz’s lavish Hotel du Palais, Mr Trump said: "We're going to do a very big trade deal, bigger than we've ever had with the UK and now at some point they won't have the obstacle, they won't have the anchor around their ankle, because that's what they have."

Boris Johnson issues 'sheep-like' challenge to Trumps trade war with China

Mr Johnson used the meeting to raise concerns about a range of US restrictions on imports of UK goods from pork pies to shower trays and cauliflowers, and admitted that he would need “compromises” from Washington to secure a deal.

"I know that there will be some tough talks ahead because at the moment I don't think we sell a single joint of British lamb in the United States; we don't sell any beef,” said the PM. “There are huge opportunities for the UK to penetrate the American market in ways we currently don't."

Mr Johnson claimed he and the president were in “complete unanimity” over the exclusion of the NHS from any trade talks, as well as the UK’s insistence on animal welfare standards.

The president said he wanted a deal done "quickly" because in the past he had been "stymied" under Theresa May.

Trump appeared keen to emphasise his preference for Johnson over his predecessor as prime minister, who he previously said had ignored his advice on how to deliver Brexit.

"This is a different person and this is a person that's going to be a great Prime Minister, in my opinion,” said the president.

“He needs no advice, he's the right man for the job. I've been saying that for a long time. It didn't make your predecessor very happy."

But differences surfaced over the issue of China, where Mr Johnson has warned the president he risks being blamed for tipping the world into potential recession with punitive tariffs adding to the costs of trade.

As Mr Trump brushed off criticisms of his confrontational approach to Beijing and suggested he could even call a state of national emergency over China’s “outrageous” behaviour in slapping tariffs on US imports, Mr Johnson intervened to say: “Just to register the sheeplike note of our view on the trade war: we're in favour of trade peace on the whole.

“We think that on the whole, the UK has profited massively in the last 200 years from free trade and that's what we want to see. So, that's what we're keen to see. We don't like tariffs on the whole.”

Boris Johnson arrives in Biarritz on Saturday

In a joint statement released after their talks, Mr Trump and Mr Johnson announced they had directed officials to launch a special relationship economic working group to “develop market-oriented principles for economic growth and increase bilateral co-operation on issues related to the modern 21st-century economy”.

The statement said the pair had discussed ”how the United Kingdom leaving the European Union presents many opportunities for deepening our already robust economic and commercial relationship, including a comprehensive trade agreement”.

It added: “The leaders acknowledged the importance of free, fair and reciprocal trade, and discussed opportunities for deepening our trading relationship in the future based on mutual respect for these principles.”

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