The United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, has warned that it will be “almost impossible” for the United Kingdom to secure a finalised trade deal with President Donald Trump before the U.S. election in November.
The future of talks was thrown in doubt, as the possibility of securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the world’s largest economy may be dependent on the re-election of President Trump, given how unenthusiastic the previous Democrat administration was about the United Kingdom.
Speaking before a congressional committee on Wednesday, Mr Lighthizer said of the possibility of signing a deal before the election: “That would be very, very, very quick time. I think it’s unlikely that that happens.”
“It is almost impossible unless the members [of Congress] decided they want to do something extraordinary to have it actually come before the Congress before November,” he added, according to The Telegraph.
Mr Lighthizer pointed to agriculture as a key stumbling block in the trade negotiations thus far, which have entered into their second phase. So far, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has baulked at the idea of lifting the ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef from America, despite posing no safety risk. Under normal, pre-coronavirus conditions, approximately 3.8 million UK tourists travel to and eat in the United States every year.
“One thing’s for sure, we’re not going to be in a position where our farmers aren’t treated fairly,” Lighthizer said.
Should President Trump lose his bid for re-election, the hopes of a trade deal with the United States would rest with former Vice President and Democratic Party Nominee Joe Biden, who has expressed anti-Brexit sentiments in the past.
“Had I been a member of parliament, had I been a British citizen, I would have voted against leaving,” Biden said in 2018.
“From the U.S. perspective, U.S. interests are diminished with Great Britain not being an integral part of Europe and being able to bring influence,” he added.
Trump at Davos: ‘We Look Forward to Negotiating a Tremendous New Deal With the United Kingdom’ https://t.co/xXHiXXMXzC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 21, 2020
If negotiators from the U.S. and UK do come to an agreement before the election, the deal would still need to be approved by the American Congress, meaning it would require the support of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-run House of Representatives.
In August of 2019, Speaker Pelosi said that the House would not pass any trade deal if it jeopardised the Good Friday Agreement or introduced border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, especially now, as the first generation born into the hope of Good Friday 21 years ago comes into adulthood. We cannot go back,” Pelosi said.
“If Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be no chance of a U.S.-UK trade agreement passing the Congress,” she warned.
In an interview with Breitbart London in May, Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the Bow Group, said that “for too long it [the UK government] has de-prioritised the very generous offers the United States has been making regarding a trade deal. Those offers won’t necessarily be there indefinitely, and we should make discussing them an absolute priority.”
The United Kingdom is currently in trade negotiations with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union. The prospect of a ‘big, beautiful’ trade deal with President Trump has been seen as a key point of leverage for Britain in its post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Johnson Says U.S. Trade Deal Will Result in £3.4bn Boost to UK Economy https://t.co/tU8g3tcZiN
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 2, 2020
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka