U.S. ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson has suggested that British negotiators work “day and night” to secure a bilateral trade deal with the United States in order to “strengthen your hard” against the EU in similar trade talks.
Speaking on LBC radio on Friday, Mr Johnson said: “Having a trade deal with the U.S. and maybe the Five Eyes will strengthen your hand when you are negotiating with your, you know, your closest geographically trading partner, which is the EU.”
He added that President Donald Trump was “resolute” about getting a trade deal with the UK done.
The American diplomat said that he had seen “dozens of times” how “excited” President Trump “is about the prospect of a closer relationship, trade-wise”, and about a prospective “free trade agreement with the UK, how encouraged he is by all the capabilities of this great country, and how it’s so important to the U.S. that we have security and our prosperity are so closely linked”.
“He wants to get it done. Take him at his word, and start working on it day and night. It would be my suggestion,” Mr Johnson added.
EU Makes Threats as Boris to Tell Eurocrat UK Ready to Walk Away Without Deal https://t.co/uIKECHDC0s
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 8, 2020
Members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reportedly gave similar advice to the prime minister in recent weeks, with ministers wanting negotiators to undertake U.S. and EU trade talks simultaneously.
Wood Johnson’s advice also comes as Eurocrats have started to talk tough on dealing with the UK before negotiations have even begun, with France rejecting Boris Johnson’s 11-month Brexit deadline, saying trade talks could take as long as three years.
“If Boris Johnson says it must end in 11 months from now and we need 15, 24 or 36 months, the 27 will take their time,” France’s EU minister, Amelie de Montchalin, said on Friday.
This week, French President Emmanuel Macron told Brussels’ Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to approach talks with “cold blood”. Whilst the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said the UK would have to make compromises during trade talks and said that the transition period would have to be extended beyond December 31st, 2020, which Prime Minister Johnson will legally block via a clause in his Brexit bill that is expected to be passed at the end of January.
Battle Lines Are Set: Farage Tells Boris to Get Tough on EU https://t.co/qMl4CKlM7U
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 9, 2020
It has also been revealed that the EU has threatened that other member-states may block a future trade deal in the European Parliament unless the rights of EU citizens living in the UK are guaranteed.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage warned the prime minister that “the battle lines are set”, telling him to get “tough” on the EU in negotiations.
“Von der Leyen has just made it clear the EU wants continued free movement of people and a ‘level playing field’ on regulations for any Free-Trade Agreement. Boris wants ‘no alignment.’ The battle lines are set. We must be tough this time,” Mr Farage said.