Hard Brexiters have long since seen a comprehensive trade deal with the US as their dream option after Brexit and Johnson’s team have been buoyed by Trump’s claim that he wants “a very, very big deal, very, very quickly”. Yet on both sides of the Atlantic, senior politicians are clear that Britain’s hopes of securing a big deal that rejects tricky issues like US food standards or access to the National Health Service are doomed. The question now facing Johnson is how far he is willing to sidle up to an unpredictable president in search of a good deal.
Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, said: “Britain is in a very difficult position. Do you appease the American president to get access, or do you hold the line and try to manage it? Inevitably, management is the only way forward but with Trump I don’t see there’s any way, given who he is, that he can conciliate or back down. I suspect it is going to continue to be extremely difficult.
“Trump wants Brexit. He wants to work bilaterally with every single country that he can. It’s great for Trump – the question is whether he can persuade Britain to accept American standards. As we know, it comes at a high price for Britain, whether it’s chlorinated chicken or any number of things, it will make it more complicated with its trade talks with the EU.