Boris Johnson ‘will travel to America within two months of taking office to agree a trade deal’ in bid to repair strained special relationship
- Boris Johnson will head to Washington to build bridges and agree a trade deal
- An ally said he would make the trip within two months of entering Downing St
- Diplomatic relations have been strained since criticisms of the Trump administration by the UK Ambassador were leaked, leading to his resignation
Boris Johnson intends to travel to the United States within weeks of being elected Tory leader and Prime Minister, to rebuild relations with Donald Trump and secure a limited trade deal, a close ally has said.
The former foreign secretary believes fast forward motion on a UK-US trade deal is ‘key’ to securing Britain’s future post Brexit, the associate told The Times.
The leadership front-runner has staked his candidacy on a promise to leave the EU by October 31, ‘deal or no deal’.
Headed for Washington: an ally said Boris Johnson would make a US trip a high priority
The source said: ‘The key to the whole thing is the US.
‘If we get a trade deal with America we will be very quickly in the market for other deals.
‘It encourages others to believe that we mean business.’
UK-US relations have been strained since the revelation, in emails leaked to the Mail on Sunday, that the UK’s ambassador to Washington Sir Kim Darroch described the Trump administration as ‘clumsy and inept’.
President Trump hit back saying Sir Kim had ‘not served the UK well’ and refused to deal with him any further.
Last week the diplomat resigned after Mr Johnson failed to offer him full-throated support in a televised debate.
A criminal investigation into an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act is now underway as authorities search for the source of the leaked emails.
Former UK Ambassador to Washington Sir Kim Darroch resigned after Mr Johnson stopped short of guaranteeing his position following criticism from President Trump
Mr Johnson said the President was ‘a friend’ in advance of the recent state visit but four years ago said his ignorance showed him to be unfit to hold the office
Allies of Mr Johnson told the newspaper he would meet the President within two months of becoming prime minister.
An official visit is being considered at the time of the UN General Assembly meeting on September 17, but some believe he will make the trip before then.
The intention of the trip, according to plans being discussed by Mr Johnson’s team, would be to strike a limited trade deal in ‘one area’ of goods while also establishing the outlines of a comprehensive deal.
The source said: ‘There is no question that the moment we leave on the 31st we should be in a position to get some kind of arrangement with the US.’
The next Tory leader – widely expected to be Mr Johnson who has a commanding poll lead among Tory members over rival Jeremy Hunt – will be in Downing Street on July 24 and will travel either to Paris or Berlin as his first official overseas trip.
Boris Johnson described the President as ‘a friend’ prior to his recent state visit, although previously when Mr Trump claimed there were ‘no go areas’ of London owing to Islamic extremism, he accused him of a level of ignorance ‘that makes him, frankly, unfit to hold the office of president of the United States’.
Last night a spokesman for Mr Johnson said: ‘No plans have been made for anything other than winning this campaign and the immediate transition. That is where the focus is.’
Amid suggestions that a politician – perhaps a fervent Brexiteer – should replace Sir Kim, Mr Hunt insisted yesterday it would be right for a career diplomat to take his place.
He said: ”I think that one of the best things about our diplomatic service are the skills acquired over many years by career diplomats’, adding that Sir Kim had ‘exemplified that’.
Theresa May is reportedly considering whether to appoint Sir Kim’s successor before she leaves Downing Street later this month.
Her outgoing Chancellor Philip Hammond promised civil servants he would oppose a no-deal Brexit from the back benches in a speech to civil servants, the paper reported.
He is expected to join felow Cabinet ministers international development secretary Rory Stewart, justice secretary David Gauke and business secretary Greg Clark in opposing No Deal in the House of Commons.