Donald Trump aide says Britain 'first in line' for post-Brexit US trade deal

Posted On: 
13th August 2019

Britain is "first in line" for a trade deal with the United States after Brexit, Donald Trump's national security adviser has claimed.

The US National Security Adviser said a trade deal could be negotiated "in a modular fashion".

John Bolton - who is on a two-day visit to the UK - said America was "ready to negotiate" smaller sector-by-sector deals with the UK as soon as it leaves the EU.

And he claimed that the relationship between the US President and Boris Johnson had already gotten off to a "roaring start", with a string of phone calls between the two leaders already taking place.

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Mr Bolton's comments will be seen as a retort to Barack Obama, who warned during the 2016 EU referendum campaign that Britain would be "at the back of the queue" in future US trade policy if it left the bloc.

But Mr Bolton told reporters: "In the Trump administration, Britain's constantly at the front of the trade queue, or line as we say."

He added: "We want to move very quickly. We wish we could have moved further along in this with the prior government.

"We were ready to negotiate. We are ready to negotiate now."

The US national security adviser said negotiating a trade deal in smaller parts could allow the two sides to strike an agreement "very quickly".

"You could do it sector-by-sector, you could do it in a modular fashion, in other words," he said.

Mr Bolton added: "You could carve out some areas where it might be possible to reach a bilateral agreement very quickly, very straightforwardly.

"That would then lock that in and when the other areas that might be more difficult were concluded later, you could combine it in one overall agreement.

"So the objective is either one document or a series of agreements that would be comprehensive.

"In order to expedite things and enhance the possibility for increasing the trade and investments between the two countries, doing it in a sector-by-sector approach or some other approach that the trade negotiators might agree with, we are open to that."

The top US aide also threw his weight behind a no-deal Brexit on 31 October if Mr Johnson - who has pledged to take Britain out of the EU "do or die" by then - chooses to go down that path.

"I think if that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically," Mr Bolton said. 

"And that’s what I’m trying to convey: We’re with you. We’re with you."

Mr Bolton meanwhile claimed that the relationship between Mr Johnson and the US President was "off to a roaring start", with the pair exchanging five phone calls since Mr Johnson was elected as the new Conservative leader.

The latest call took place on Monday, with a White House spokesperson saying: "The president expressed his appreciation for the United Kingdom’s steadfast partnership in addressing global challenges and looks forward to meeting with him personally in the near future."

Downing Street said the two leaders had discussed a "shared commitment to an ambitious free trade agreement once the UK leaves the EU".

"They also spoke about Brexit and a range of other issues — including Iran, Hong Kong, and 5G," a spokesperson added.