Sources involved in the campaign to re-elect Donald Trump have told the Sunday Express they expect Boris Johnson to visit the US early in February – days after Brexit on January 31 – as “a sign of the renewed relationship”.
Last night it was reported he could be given the honour of addressing both Houses of Congress, only the sixth British Prime Minister to do so.
The President’s team are keen for the Prime Minister to arrive ahead of Mr Trump’s State of the Union address on February 4. A campaign committee source said: “It would be great if we can have Boris there as a guest of honour. It will be a real signal of what is to come this year.
“Boris and the President have a really good relationship so as soon as Brexit has happened the talks for a trade deal between the two countries can get going. There is no reason why an interim deal can’t be done for the summer, with some eyecatching agreements which will help both the President and Prime Minister.”
Mr Trump has been a strong international supporter of Brexit and partly put his own victory down to the Brexit effect, with his 2016 election win coming just months after Britain voted to Leave the EU.
He has regularly promised a “great” trade deal and last month, US ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson said Mr Johnson’s recent election victory had given Britain “an amazing opportunity”, paving the way for a huge boost in trade between the two nations. Republicans in Washington have been pressing for support for a UK trade deal, believing that by linking the City of London with the financial markets in New York, the UK and US can dominate world financial services. Meanwhile, there have been reports that Mr Johnson’s cabinet is split over whether to focus on the EU negotiations or push for parallel talks with the US. But senior Tory MPs and Brexiteers have made it clear that Mr Johnson must start talks with the US at the same time as the EU. Writing in today’s Sunday Express, former cabinet minister Owen Paterson, who met Mr Trump last year, said that the PM “must act now” on a US trade deal. He writes: “It will be enormously beneficial for both countries.”
Another leading Brexiteer and former cabinet minister, David Jones, said: “It’s very important that the first act is to go and see President Trump. It will be important symbolically.
“We must work in parallel on a trade deal with the Americans but also look to other opportunities such as Australia and New Zealand.”
The need to ensure the Government focuses on US trade talks and does not allow the EU to dictate the next nine months of talks is seen as the primary reason to keep the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs running.
There have been claims pressure has been put on the ERG to disband after January 31, but MPs have told the Sunday Express that there will still be a role for it. Its AGM takes place on January 28 when its future will be discussed. One senior ERG member, North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen, said: “We are all very happy with what the Prime Minister has done so far.