Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated he doesn’t expect to secure the free-trade agreement he seeks with the US before the next UK general election due in 2024.
A trade deal with the US was billed as one of the prizes of Brexit, so Johnson is under pressure to prove the biggest upheaval in British foreign policy in fifty years was worth it. As far back as 2016, then-President Barack Obama had cautioned Britain it would be “at the back of the queue” for an agreement.
Speaking ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, Johnson declined to comment when asked by Sky News if an agreement could be reached before the election.
“We will keep going with free trade deals around the world including in the United States,” he said. “But the Americans do negotiate very hard.”
Earlier, Johnson told reporters travelling to the US with him that Biden has too many domestic priorities to find time to negotiate a trade deal with the UK.
“The reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry,” he said, referring to the president’s $3.5 trillion tax and social spending package. “I would much rather get a deal that really works for the UK than get a quick deal.”
Johnson meets Biden at a delicate juncture in international relations. A three-way deal to supply nuclear submarines to Australia announced last week has reinforced the idea of a special bond, underpinned by US-UK security interests, even as the move infuriated the French.
The UK is focused on delivering on the promise made at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, and renewed in Paris in 2015, that poorer nations were to receive $100 billion per year from 2020 to help them cut carbon emissions and adapt to the
effects of climate change.