US ambassador to UK warns post-Brexit trade deal ‘totally up in the air'

Posted On: 
9th July 2018

The US ambassador to Britain has said the chances of the two countries reaching a trade deal after Brexit are “up in the air” following the Cabinet’s Chequers agreement.

US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson
Credit: 
PA Images

Woody Johnson said while the Donald Trump administration “would love to” strike a deal with the UK, the document had made the issue “complicated”.

It comes as ministers agreed to keep standards on goods and agriculture in line with the rules of the European Union after quitting the bloc.

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The plan could undermine chances of a deal with the United States, which has long been hostile to EU regulations in those areas.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 5Live that it remained to be seen how the agreement would impact on any future relationship.

“I think that there was a briefing that came out, as I understand it. It was very short, a couple of pages. This is a lot more complicated than a couple of pages," he said. 

“I would say that the bilateral agreement, whether we have one or not, is totally up in the air at this point.”

However, asked if the US thought a deal could be done in time, he added: “Absolutely, from the US standpoint, yes, we'd love to do a bilat, and the President said he'd like to do it quickly, and all hands on deck - so we'll get it done.”

He added that President Trump, who is set to meet with Mrs May in the UK later this week, "respects sovereignty" and remained keen to reach an agreement.

“He’s talked about sovereignty. He’s looking at it in our country as well. So I think the bilateral will be an important discussion that he'll have with the Prime Minister,” Mr Johnson said.

Elsewhere, the ambassador said the special relationship between the US and Britain was “more special today, and it's growing”.

He added: “Whether it's in shopping centres, or the politicians, or the people in culture or the fishermen, I feel it totally differently.  So I think the special relationship is alive and well and stronger than ever.”

Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP and campaigner for pro-EU group Best for Britain, said: “The Tory Party's Brexit extremists have lost it on this one.

“They want to scupper our most lucrative trade deals - those with the EU - in order to suit Trump's every wish and whim in a trade deal worth peanuts by comparison. 

“Such bad maths and a Prime Minister with no compass sum up how divided the Tories are on Brexit.”