Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be putting Britain’s future trade deals at risk by delaying international trips.
The prime minister is particularly at risk of further isolating U.S. President Donald Trump by postponing a U.S. trip which had been pencilled in for next month, putting it off until June.
Johnson has already reportedly scrapped planned visits to Washington in January and February.
Downing Street sources speaking to The Sun confirmed the trip had been postponed, but denied rumours that Johnson was deliberating slighting the President, rather that he was keen to stay in the United Kingdom to ensure his domestic agenda is carried out.
Making a Lord of the Rings reference, a Number 10 source told the tabloid: “Levelling up the country, making the streets safe and sorting out the NHS is why the PM won the election.
“When the Eye of Sauron is off the Whitehall machine, things stop working. That is why he has stripped down all his foreign travel this year to get his agenda done.”
Delingpole: Boris’s Sinister Henchman Dominic Cummings Exerts His Iron Grip https://t.co/WHUp8AS8O8
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 13, 2020
However, staff are also concerned about the effect that Johnson stepping back from the world stage is having on the progress of signing post-Brexit free trade deals. So far this year, the prime minister has left his foreign secretary to do the heavy lifting.
Dominic Raab recently returned from a trip to Asia to court diplomats for future trade deals, with the foreign secretary going to Japan rather than Johnson himself. A possible trade deal trip to New Zealand and Australia was also reportedly shelved.
“There is a lot of concern about this,” Downing Street staff told The Sun. “If we don’t do any trade tours this year, it’s going to affect the entire Brexit process. The PM is our best asset.”
The postponed trips to Washington may add further strain to the Special Relationship. On Wednesday, Johnson had criticised the U.S.-UK extradition treaty, calling it “imbalanced” — the remarks coming after ongoing concerns over the prime minister’s decision to allow Huawei to support the construction of the British 5G network, against the security recommendations of allies including the United States.
Nigel Farage wrote this week that Boris’s Huawei decision could threaten a future U.S. trade deal and “imperils” Five Eyes intelligence sharing, adding: “Forming ties with this company is proving to be a monumental mistake at a time when the special relationship should be flourishing.”
Farage: UK’s Huawei Decision ‘Imperils Intelligence Sharing’, U.S. Trade Deal https://t.co/vjhICByqOF
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 14, 2020