Liz Truss has downplayed expectations that a free trade deal with the US might be in the offing ahead of her first bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
On the plane to the US, Truss admitted to reporters: “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.”
It is the first time the government has conceded there is virtually no chance of getting agreement on an early bilateral trade deal with the US, Britain’s biggest trading partner, despite it being coveted by Brexit supporters as one of the major potential benefits of leaving the EU.
Instead, the new prime minister said her priorities would be joining the trans-Pacific trading partnership of 11 countries, including Australia, Canada and Singapore, as well as striking deals with the Gulf States and India.
Speaking to the Guardian, she added that her “number one” focus in talks with Biden at the UN on Wednesday would be global security, especially working with the US and European partners to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine.
It comes as Joe Biden warned that peace in Northern Ireland should not be undermined by post-Brexit agreements, with Britain threatening to rip up the rule book and break international agreements in order to curtail potential disruption.
It could lead to a protracted and drawn-out battle between the UK and the EU, one Biden will have little appetite to get in the middle of.