Brexit breakthrough: Mordaunt turns on Biden charm offensive as UK on brink of US deal

Penny Mordaunt clashes with Emily Thornberry on trade

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The Government has been arranging post-Brexit trade deals with countries around the world since the 2016 ‘Leave’ vote, as part of its vision for a more ‘Global Britain’. Ministers are keen to draw up a direct deal with the US, despite some hesitancy from the White House.

The Trade Minister is keen to get the cogs moving in talks between the countries.

She told POLITICO on Tuesday morning she would like to highlight for US officials “what an opportunity Brexit is for America and the rest of the world”.

But Ms Mordaunt looks set to have a big task on her hands.

The likelihood of a deal being agreed any time soon is slim.

During a visit by Boris Johnson to the Oval Office in September, President Joe Biden said: “We’re going to talk a little bit about trade today and we’re going to have to work that through.”

British Environment Secretary George Eustice later told Sky News: “It’s just not a priority for the US administration.”

Mr Johnson added: “The Americans do negotiate very hard.”

Ms Mordaunt highlighted this “lack of energy” and insisted more must be done.

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In a speech later on Tuesday, she will say: “Brexit is not a tragedy to be mourned by the international community, or an act of self harm or one that requires us to be punished.”

She will talk at the Carter Center in Atlanta on diplomacy and defence, and will likely hope that this will reinvigorate discussions between the nations.

Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan recently told Bloomberg she expects a US-UK trade deal to be struck by mid-2024.

She said: “That’s the sort of time-frame that’s realistic.

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“There’s a huge amount we can do while we work towards a comprehensive trade deal.”

Ms Mordaunt became Trade Minister in September this year.

Since December 5, she has been visiting numerous American states to discuss areas for cooperation between the US and UK within agriculture, services and digital.

Her visit will come to an end later this week – on December 16.

She made her aims quite clear last week, stating: “We want a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the US.”

In the meantime, she has highlighted that “much of my time will be spent working in the US at state level”.

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