SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, FRANCE - At the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump's first order of business is a working breakfast with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom the American president once referred to as “Britain's Trump”.
“He’s going to be a fantastic prime minister,” said Trump, adding that Johnson “needs no advice” on Brexit and that he’s “the right man for the job”.
“It didn't make your predecessor very happy but I've been saying it for a long time,” Trump added, referring to Theresa May who resigned over her failure to deliver Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union
Johnson responded, “You're on message there. I'm very grateful for that”.
But Johnson pushed Trump back on the issue of free trade after the American leader, responding to a reporter’s question, said that allies are not pressuring him to give up the trade war with China.
“No, not at all,” said Trump, “I think they respect the trade war. It has to happen”.
Johnson then congratulated Trump on the American economy but added, “Just to register the faint sheep like note of our view on the trade war, we're in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can.”
Trump appeared visibly uncomfortable with the push-back.
This was the first formal meeting between the two leaders since Johnson took over from his predecessor. British and American officials have billed the meeting as an opportunity for stronger ties between the two nations.
The relationship between these traditional allies has been marked by tension since Trump took office and gave his support for Brexit.
U.S. – U.K. trade deal
In the meeting, Johnson who is pushing for a post-Brexit bilateral trade deal pitched for access to American market for British products including lamb, beef and pies.
“We didn't sell any pork pies, Johnson said, “And there are clearly huge opportunities for the U.K. to penetrate the American market in the way that we currently don’t.”
Johnson was referring to the British delicacy Melton Mowbray pork pie, sold in many countries except the U.S.
Prior to his meeting with Trump Johnson said that he will require “our American friends to compromise and open up”.
The British Prime Minister is seeking a U.S. – U.K. trade deal post-Brexit but such a deal is unlikely without London first settling the issue of its divorce with the European Union.
European Council President Donald Tusk has stressed that the bloc will not cooperate with Britain on a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile American lawmakers from the Democratic Party have said they would oppose a U.S. – U.K. deal if Brexit undermined the Good Friday Agreement and a border is re-established across the island of Ireland.
Last week Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative Nancy Pelosi said Brexit must not endanger the 1998 Irish peace deal, which the U.S. helped facilitate.
This is the first formal meeting between the two leaders since Johnson took over from his predecessor. British and American officials have billed the meeting as an opportunity for stronger ties between the two nations.
The relationship between these traditional allies has been marked by tension since Trump took office and openly voiced his support for Brexit, a divisive political issue in the U.K.