Brexit: US ambassador to UK Johnson warns on trade deal

Woody Johnson with Donald and Melania Trump Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Woody Johnson with Donald and Melania Trump on their UK visit this summer

Donald Trump’s offer of a “quick, massive bilateral trade deal” won’t be possible if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is backed by Parliament, the US ambassador to the UK has warned.

Woody Johnson told the BBC such a deal with the US could lead to an “exciting future” for the UK.

But that’s only if Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement does not succeed, he said.

President Trump had previously described her offer as a “great deal for the EU”.

“What I’m focusing on here is something the president has also said – that is looking forward to, and hoping, that the environment will lead to the ability for the US to do a quick, very massive bilateral trade deal,” said Mr Johnson.

He added it could be “the precursor of future trade deals with other countries around the world for Great Britain that will really take you way, way into an exciting future”.

“We’re still going through the stages of deciding exactly where the country is going,” said Mr Johnson. “If it goes in a way that allows these kinds of agreements to occur then I think that will be very positive in the president’s eyes.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Johnson said a trade deal with the US would be “positive” in Mr Trump’s eyes

Asked if that would go ahead under the current proposed Brexit deal, he replied: “It doesn’t look like it would be possible.”

He said ministers – and the prime minister – had to “measure the impact of all the other trade offs” and how different trade agreements would benefit the UK.

Mr Trump has said Mrs May’s deal could leave Britain unable to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the US.

Mr Johnson did not give more details about what such a deal would entail.

He also said the country is “in need of leadership” over Brexit and that MPs had been left feeling frustrated.

“You can see the frustration in members of parliament trying to navigate what the people wanted when they voted on the referendum,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption President Trump met the Queen in July – could a state visit be on the cards for 2019?

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