US-UK trade deal ‘next to impossible’ as Joe Biden struggles to win over Rust Belt states

Joe Biden: US-UK trade deal ‘next to impossible’ says expert

Brett Bruen, a former diplomat under Barack Obama, believes the incoming President will look to shore up his support base among Americans living in Rust Belt states which will mean turning his back on free trade deals. Such a move would narrow the odds of a post-Brexit agreement on trade across the Atlantic between Joe Biden and Boris Johnson. The remarks follow concern Mr Johnson’s friendship with Donald Trump could undermine his relationship with the new US President. 

Mr Bruen told Euronews: “Where I think the UK is in for some challenging times is with respect to trade agreements.

“Those are going to be next to impossible.

“He will be putting the middle class at the heart of his foreign policy. Folks in rust belt states. 

“Biden is going to attempt to capture their support and that’s not going to be with free trade deals.”

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It comes as the UK Government attempts to soothe concerns from Mr Biden over Brexit and, in particular, Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson and Mr Biden, who have never met, already don’t appear to have the best relationship, with the new US President once describing the Prime Minister as a “physical and emotional clone” of bitter rival Donald Trump.

Mr Biden, who has Irish roots, is opposed to Brexit and was left furious by the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill.

He even threatened to pull the plug on a US-UK trade deal if the controversial clauses to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement – namely around the Northern Ireland Protocol – and subsequently break internal law, were not stripped out.

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But tension around Northern Ireland and Brexit could soon be calmed with the first ministerial trips to the US as Mr Biden and his team settle into the White House.

Mr Johnson’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is expected to visit soon, while a staff member focussed on Northern Ireland issues could also be appointed to the US embassy in London.

The moves are pointing towards the UK wanting to quickly demonstrate its willingness to work on the issues surrounding Northern Ireland.

Mr Lewis has been in close contact with Richard Neal of the Ways and Means Committee – a close ally of Nancy Pelosi – and there is increasing hope Downing Street can use this avenue to explain its perspective.

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Mr Biden will be sworn in as the 46th US President on Wednesday, replacing Donald Trump after just one term following the election win in November.

Commenting on the prospect of being able to pick up the phone and begin contact with Mr Biden’s team, a UK Government advisor told Politico: “Expect a lot of movement in the coming days.”

Elsewhere, the UK continues to be at pains to emphasise it is more aligned to Mr Biden’s views on several important matters than it ever was with Mr Trump.

These include climate change, the promotion of democratic values and the UK’s willingness to back up good diplomatic intentions with defence spending.

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