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White House accuses Boris Johnson of ‘dragging his feet’ over US trade deal ahead of summer deadline

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The Sun | 19 January 2020

White House accuses Boris Johnson of ‘dragging his feet’ over US trade deal ahead of summer deadline

by Tom Newton Dunn

But there is mounting concern among the President’s officials about what one dubbed as “naivety” in No10 over how long the talks will take.

Britain is still yet to publish its formal negotiating objectives for the US deal - the first step in the process - despite the US making theirs public 11 months ago, in February last year.

President Trump’s Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer again pressed International Trade Secretary Liz Truss to publish Britain’s document in a phone call with her last week.

Formal trade deal talks with other countries cannot begin until after Britain leaves the EU on January 31, but a UK-US working group has been preparing the ground for months.

A US administration source said: “We’re up against the clock because Washington will close down in the Autumn for the election.

“There seems to be a little bit of naivety in the UK government about how complex trade negotiations really can be.

“There are some really sticky issues here - phytosanitary, us buying your lamb and beef, tariffs on cars and trucks, and Congress is then likely to kick up rough when ratifying it.”

Senior Cabinet ministers are set to meet on Thursday to thrash out the UK’s asks for both major deals.

Aides say Mr Johnson is also now keen to strike a trade deal with Japan as soon as possible this year because of the opportunitites for digital commerce.

Whitehall sources said No10 is holding off on a US bluerpint while Britain’s positions for UK-EU trade talks are first finalised.

The Tory leader also didn’t want to give Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn any general election fodder by publishing it before the December 12 poll.

The tension comes ahead of a trip by the PM to Washington DC to see Mr Trump next month to discuss a trade deal.

Downing Street sources admitted to coming under US pressure to move quicker on the trade negotiation.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “Once we’ve left the EU on Jan 31, we’re free to strike trade deals with countries around the world, not just the EU.”

 source: The Sun