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Boris Johnson accuses Donald Trump of damaging global economy with China trade war

4 min read

Boris Johnson has accused Donald Trump of “letting the air out of the tyres of the world economy” by entering into a trade war with China.

The Prime Minister set out his aims for post-Brexit trade in a major speech in London, laying down his red lines for the next phase of negotiations with Brussels as well as the UK’s plans now it is officially out of the EU.

However he refused to say the word "Brexit" at all, saying it was not banned - but now we have left it is "receding behind us in history".

But despite saying he “shares the optimism” of the US President that a deal can now be done between the two nations, he was unsparing in his criticism of Washington’s trade war with Beijing.

Speaking at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, he said Britain “is leaving its chrysalis” and is “re-emerging after decades of hibernation as a campaigner for global free trade”.

But Mr Johnson explained the “beneficial magic” of free trade is fading and “being choked” by politicians failing to lead.

He said: “The mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground.

“From Brussels to China to Washington, tariffs are being waved around like cudgels - even in debates on foreign policy where frankly they have no place - and there is an ever growing proliferation of non-tariff barriers.

“And the resulting tensions are letting the air out of the tyres of the world economy.”

The PM added that when barriers are going up around the world: “Then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange.

“Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.

“And here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you in all humility that the UK is ready for that role.”

He also called on Washington to “cut their punitive tariffs on Scotch whisky” and streamline regulations on selling services like insurance.

The PM added: “And it goes without saying that of course the NHS is not on the table, and no we will not accept any diminution in food hygiene or animal welfare standards.”

He also criticised America for not importing British meat, saying: “It is an incredible fact that we still sell not one hamburger’s worth of beef to the US, not one kebab’s worth of lamb.

“And as I speak the people of the US are still surviving without an ounce of Scottish haggis which they continue to ban.

"In fact I don’t know how they manage Burns Night.”

Mr Johnson was also adamant that chlorinated chicken would not be coming to the UK as part of deal with the US, saying it is not a trade issue but one of “animal welfare”.

“What we will do is use our negotiations to persuade our partners that if you want to do trade freely with us, obviously they will have to accept our animal welfare standards,” he added.

The PM also took a hard-line stance with the EU, saying on Brussels' demands for a “level playing-field” as a precursor to any deal: “There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules.”

And he said any agreement will not trespass “on the autonomy of our respective legal systems”, meaning the European Court of Justice can no longer have any jurisdiction.

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