Liz Truss admits talks with US on post-Brexit free trade deal will not resume for years

Liz Truss will meet US President Joe Biden in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly

Liz Truss has conceded that negotiations with the US for a post-Brexit free trade deal will not restart for years.

The Prime Minister has stressed that her trade priority lies with striking agreements with India and the Gulf states, and joining a trade pact with nations including Australia and Japan.

But Ms Truss heavily downplayed the chances of talks even resuming to get the comprehensive deal with the States as she flew to New York ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden at a United Nations summit on Wednesday (21 September).

Lizz Truss has stressed that her trade priority lies with striking agreements with India and the Gulf states (Photo: Getty Images)

The free trade deal with the US was billed by Brexit backers as a major benefit of leaving the European Union during the referendum.

Ms Truss, a former Brexit opponent who has since switched to becoming a supported, has said the deals with Delhi and other allies are the UK’s “trade priorities”

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Speaking to reporters flying with her to New York, she said: “There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term”.

Officials did not deny that the Prime Minister was effectively conceding it will be years before talks with the White House resume.

President Biden has stalled on trade negotiations with the UK and, vocally proud of his Irish heritage, has raised concerns about the impact of Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol on the peace process.

The next presidential election is in 2024 and the more trade-focused Donald Trump may run again for the Republicans.

The chances of a trade deal with the UK were downplayed by Mr Biden when Boris Johnson last visited the US as Prime Minister, with the US president warning against tampering with the “Irish accords” amid a row over the post-Brexit protocol.

Trade deals with India and other allies ‘higher priority’

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Ms Truss named among her priorities the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest trading blocs which includes Australia, Canada and Japan.

The other she cited is the Gulf Co-operation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and is the EU’s sixth largest export market.

Mr Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a deadline for striking a deal by Diwali, the Hindu celebration being held on 23 October.

So far the UK and the US have been striking smaller state-by-state agreements, with Britain signing deals with Indiana and North Carolina. However, these are far less ambitious than the comprehensive free trade deal touted by Brexit supporters during the 2016 referendum.

Northern Ireland Protocol ‘potential dealbreaker’

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One of the major issues facing future talks with the US is Ms Truss’s threat to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the EU says would break international law.

Senior figures in Mr Biden’s Democratic party have warned a trade deal could be jeopardised by the UK single-handedly tearing up the agreement, which was part of the Brexit divorce deal.

During her visit to New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly (Unga) Ms Truss is also set to have talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen, which are expected to prominently feature Brexit.

Ms Truss will meet Mr Macron on Tuesday (20 September), before seeing Mr Biden and Ms von der Leyen on Wednesday. She had been set to talk to the US President in Britain over the weekend as he visited for the Queen’s funeral, but the meeting was postponed.

Labour’s Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, who was also attending Unga, said: “After being snubbed by the Biden administration within her first weeks in office, Liz Truss urgently needs to wake up to the damage her reckless approach to foreign policy is doing to the UK’s national interest.

“The Prime Minister must use the UN General Assembly to bring the UK back in from the cold and begin rebuilding our country’s diplomatic influence.”