UK “first in line” to negotiate a trade deal with the US, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson says the UK is “first in line” to negotiate a “great” trade deal with the US following talks with Donald Trump’s senior advisers and top Republicans in the US Senate, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said Mr Johnson knows “full well” that “there is no way the United Kingdom is going to take a back seat”.

“They will take a front seat and I think it will be our priority to make sure that we deal with them on a trade agreement initially but in all respects in a way that demonstrates the long-term friendship that we’ve had for so long,” Corker was quoted by the BBC as saying.

House Speaker Ryan issued a statement on Monday saying: “The special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom is strong, and we are determined to make it even stronger.”

“In this spirit, Secretary Johnson and I discussed several areas of mutual concern for our nations, including reaffirming our commitment to NATO and exploring opportunities for improving bilateral trade relations,” Ryan said. “I want to thank Secretary Johnson for his time and friendship.”

In a video posted on the Foreign Office Facebook page, Boris Johnson said: “Clearly, the Trump administration-to-be has a very exciting agenda of change. One thing that won’t change though is the closeness of the relationship between the US and the UK.

“We are the number two contributor to defence in Nato. We are America’s principal partner in working for global security and, of course, we are great campaigners for free trade.

“We hear that we are first in line to do a great free trade deal with the United States. So, it’s going to be a very exciting year for both our countries.”

Johnson’s visit paves the way for Mrs May’s meeting with Trump this spring.