US, Britain back rapid trade deal post-Brexit
The top US and British diplomats said Wednesday they were prepared to move "as soon as possible" on a trade deal after Britain's planned withdrawal from the European Union on October 31.
Speaking in Washington, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged the EU to negotiate a new pact on Britain's departure to avoid a potentially calamitous "no-deal" Brexit.
Raab said after meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the two sides agreed on the need for quick negotiations on a two-way trade deal after Brexit strands Britain outside the current US-EU trade pact.
"America is our single largest bilateral trading partner. President Trump has made clear again that he wants an ambitious free trade agreement with UK, so I hope that we can make that happen as soon as possible after we leave the EU on the 31st of October," Raab told reporters.
Standing at Raab's side, Pompeo said Washington supports London's "sovereign choice" in withdrawing from the European Union, whatever happens.
"However Brexit ultimately shakes out, we'll be on the doorstep hand-in-hand, ready to sign a new free trade agreement at the earliest possible time," Pompeo said.
Raab repeated Prime Minister Boris Johnson's determination to leave the EU at the end of October whether or not the two sides set a new agreement governing post-Brexit relations.
Since Johnson took office on July 24 promising to change the previously negotiated terms of the looming divorce, EU officials have refused to reopen talks.
"This government, this cabinet is absolutely resolved, determined to leave the EU by the end of October," Raab said.
"There's a deal to be done. The PM has expressed that to our European partners," he added.
"But I think if the EU's position is that there can be no change to the withdrawal agreement, then that would be a choice that they've made, and that makes it very difficult to see how we can move a negotiation forward."
© 2019 AFP