The Prime Minister – who has hailed Britain’s post-Brexit prospects – played down hopes of a ‘quick’ deal as he admitted US President Joe Biden has a ‘lot of fish to fry’
Boris Johnson’s hopes of striking a quick trade deal with the United States look bleak in a blow to one of his key post-Brexit ambitions.
The Prime Minister admitted that US President Joe Biden had other “fish to fry” ahead of his arrival in Washington for a White House summit.
Government sources also played down expectations of Mr Johnson heading home with an agreement to restart trade talks with America.
Mr Johnson told reporters: “The reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry.
“He’s got a huge infrastructure package, he’s got a build back better package.
“We want to do it, but what we want is a great FTA.
“I have quite a lot of experience of American negotiations, and they are pretty ruthless.
“I would much rather get a deal that really works for the UK than get a quick deal.”
No 10 denied that Barak Obama had been proved right in his claim during the Brexit referendum that leaving the EU would put the UK at the “back of the queue” for a deal.
The PM’s spokesman said: “We are confident of securing a good deal for the British people and will take the time necessary to achieve that”.
But Mr Johnson, one of the architects of Vote Leave, had repeatedly promise that the UK would forge bold new trade deals after Brexit.
Earlier, the PM told world leaders at the UN he was growing “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments to tackle the climate crisis are “nowhere near enough”.
Downing Street fears that the PM’s plans for a successful COP26 summit in Glasgow in November are reliant on other wealthy nations stepping up.
However, the US President appeared on the brink of making a major commitment to helping fund poorer countries tackle climate change.
US climate envoy John Kerry said: “I think we’re going to get it done by Cop and the US will do its part.”
Mr Johnson said that relations with Washington were “about as good as they have been at any time in decades” despite disputes over Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and travel rules.
The PM finally admitted the special relationship had been strained when Donald Trump was in the White House – saying “we had all sorts of pebbles in the shoe” despite cosying up to him.
He revealed he was not close with Mr Biden and they had only spoken on a handful of occasions – but insisted the pair saw “eye to eye” on multiple issues.
But when asked what they had in common, he could only think of a shared interest in trains.
Mr Johnson will also meet VP Kamala Harris and Congressional leaders.
And he will dine with Australian PM Scott Morrison – who he struck a defence pact with last week – although No 10 was unable to say if there would be a BBQ.