Liz Truss has admitted that talks on a trade deal with the US are unlikely to start in the “medium term”.
The UK is instead likely to focus its attention on CPTPP membership and achieving deals with India and the Gulf States.
Speaking as she travelled to the US, where she will speak to the UN in New York and meet president Joe Biden, the prime minister said: “There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have any expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.”
The ‘special relationship’
Relations with Biden have been strained by Truss’s threats as foreign secretary to rip up the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, reports the Guardian.
This has undermined attempts to strike a trade deal, and the UK has signed mini deals with individual states, including Indiana and North Carolina, in the meantime.
Politico reports that Truss’s comments on the impasse on trade talks are the frankest admission of the state of US-UK trade dialogue. The PM will meet Biden on Wednesday.
A No. 10 official said Truss’s message reflected “the reality that Biden is not doing any deals” and that the UK did not want the offer of a deal to be a “sword of Damocles” hanging over negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The UK has drawn up legislation to enable it to tear up part of the protocol.
The bill was tabled by Truss this summer and is expected to reach the Lords in mid-October, further threatening to escalate tensions between the EU and potentially the US as well, reports Sky News.
On Sunday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin met Truss at Downing Street for almost an hour with the pair agreeing there is an opportunity to find a negotiated outcome to the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, reports the Irish Times.
Martin, who was at the Queen's funeral yesterday, limited remarks afterwards to paying tribute to the late monarch for her “dedicated service to the people of the United Kingdom and of course her contribution to reconciliation on these islands and particularly in terms of the relationship between Britain and Ireland”.
He was one of five leaders who met with the PM before the funeral, raising hopes that resumed talks between the UK and the EU will address the protocol, reports the Guardian.
The meeting came days after the Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, expressed “cautious optimism that we will see in a few weeks’ time the opening of an honest effort to try to settle some of these issues that have been outstanding for far too long”.
With US talks on hold, Downing Street confirmed the government is still aiming for a Diwali deadline in late October for an agreement with India.