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Trump won't offer bilateral trade deal to UK if parliament approves May's Brexit plan, US ambassador warns

Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the UK, with Donald Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski for AFP/Getty Images
Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the UK, with Donald Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski for AFP/Getty Images

The US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson has warned that Donald Trump’s “quick, massive, bilateral trade deal” after Brexit will not be possible under Theresa May’s proposed Brexit.

Johnson also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that British politicians were growing frustrated at “trying to navigate what the people wanted when they voted” following the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

He said that the UK was “in need of leadership” over Brexit. Earlier Trump had said that the Brexit deal on offer from May to parliament was a “great deal for the EU.”

While Johnson talked up the scope of the trade deal that Trump wanted to offer the UK following the implementation of Brexit, he said that May’s proposed deal would make it difficult to offer.

He said that if the deal was approved by parliament, then a bilateral US deal “doesn’t look like it would be possible.”

READ MORE: US banks tell staff to move or lose jobs after Brexit

Johnson explained: “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 … 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.”

The ambassador acknowledged that uncertainty remained, saying: “We’re still going through the stages of deciding exactly where the country is going.

“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.”

Johnson encouraged Britain to embrace the opportunities of life after Brexit.

“All of the reporting looks back and it looks at a very static future, rather than an active British future – about solving problems, entrepreneurialism and taking advantage of opportunities and being very innovative,” Johnson said.

“If you look back and try to project the past into the present and future, it’s going to be bleak.

“But you’re leaving out the great thing that Britain has to offer and that is all of the people and all of their efforts and their ability to solve problems. If you factor that in, I think the future is extremely positive, extremely bright.”