U.S. Ambassador to London Woody Johnson has hailed Britain’s departure from the European Union, reaffirming President Trump’s enthusiasm for a free, world-facing United Kingdom and a future trade deal.
The written message came in the final hours of Britain’s membership of the EU, when Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson noted the historic occasion and expressed his good wishes to the United Kingdom in the next chapter of her national history.
Hailing the transatlantic special relationship, the Ambassador said the United Kingdom and the United States would go forward to face global challenges together.
Making clear the United States’ support for Britain, Ambassador Johnson wrote: “America shares your optimism and excitement about the many opportunities the future will bring” — one of those opportunities very evidently being the hotly-anticipated future free trade agreement between the two nations.
I would like to wish the UK every success as you chart a new path outside of the EU. We share your optimism and excitement about the many opportunities the future will bring. pic.twitter.com/6H216ZalHL
— Ambassador Johnson (@USAmbUK) January 31, 2020
A British-American trade deal has been a core part of the Brexit story since before even the 2016 referendum, with the fact that European Union laws and conventions ban its member-states from striking their own trade deals being a sticking point for many Eurosceptics during Britain’s membership of the bloc.
This dynamic took on a dramatic turn in the runup to the 2016 Brexit referendum, when then-U.S. President Barack Obama told the British people that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for a trade deal should it ever dare leave the European Union at the request of then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
The intervention in the Brexit debate by President Obama was poorly received by many British voters, and was subsequently credited with helping the public swing behind Brexit.
The fact the intervention was manufactured by David Cameron was subsequently revealed and compounded the controversy surrounding it.
Confirmed: Cameron Told Obama to Say Brexit Britain Would Be ‘Back of the Queue’ https://t.co/k6QIKSdS6J
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 2, 2018
Attitudes to a trade deal developed markedly under U.S. President Donald Trump, however, who flipped the phrase on its head, telling Britain when it was ready to leave the European Union it would be “at the front of the line” for a deal — something he has frequently repeated since.
Ambassador Johnson emphasised this in his Brexit Day note of congratulations, writing: “President Donald J. Trump has long supported the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union. Now that the UK is back in control of its own trade policy, we look forward to achieving a broad Free Trade Agreement that will increase prosperity and create jobs in both our countries.”
President Trump’s Ambassador has long been a cheerleader for a free trade agreement between the two countries, and has made clear his determination to see one signed.
Speaking in January, Ambassador Johnson said the Trump Presidency and the British government would work “day and night” to facilitate a deal.