Prime Minister – who praised Britain’s post-Brexit outlook – downplayed hopes for a ‘quick’ deal, admitting US President Joe Biden had ‘a lot of fish to fry’
Boris Johnson’s hopes of securing a quick trade deal with the United States appear bleak in a blow to one of his main post-Brexit ambitions.
The Prime Minister admitted that US President Joe Biden had other “fish to fry” before he arrived in Washington for a White House summit.
Government sources also downplayed expectations of Mr Johnson returning home with a deal to restart trade talks with America.
Mr Johnson told reporters: “The reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to whip.
“He has a huge infrastructure package, he has a better rebuild package.
“We want to do it, but what we want is a big FTA.
“I have a fair amount of experience with American negotiations, and they are quite ruthless.
“I’d much rather get a deal that really works for the UK than get a quick deal.”
No 10 denied that Barack Obama was right to say in the Brexit referendum that leaving the EU would put the UK “last in line” for a deal.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “We are confident that we will reach a good deal for the British people and will take the time necessary to achieve it”.
But Mr Johnson, one of the architects of Vote Leave, had repeatedly pledged that the UK would make bold new trade deals after Brexit.
Earlier, the prime minister told world leaders at the UN that he was increasingly “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments to tackle the climate crisis were “far from sufficient”.
Downing Street fears that the Prime Minister’s plans for a successful COP26 summit in Glasgow in November depend on stepping up from other rich countries.
However, the US president appeared poised to make a major pledge to help poorer countries tackle climate change.
John Minchillo / UPI / REX / Shutterstock)
US Climate Envoy John Kerry said: “I think we’ll get Cop done and the US will do its part.”
Johnson said relations with Washington were “about as good as they have been for decades” despite disputes over Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and travel rules.
The Prime Minister eventually admitted that the special relationship was strained when Donald Trump was in the White House – saying “we had all kinds of rocks in our shoes” despite getting close to him.
He revealed he was not close to Mr Biden and that they had only spoken a few times – but insisted the couple “agreed” on several issues.
But when asked what they had in common, he could only think of a shared interest in trains.
Mr Johnson will also meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and congressional leaders.
And he will have dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison – with whom he made a defense pact last week – although No 10 was unable to say if there would be a barbecue.