Lord Darroch: UK-US trade deal in Biden’s first term would be ‘a stretch’

PA

The UK would be “lucky” to strike a trade deal with Washington in Joe Biden’s first term as president, the former UK ambassador to the US has said.

Ahead of Mr Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, Lord (Kim) Darroch, who was forced to quit in 2019 after frank diplomatic cables referring to current President Donald Trump were leaked, said he doubts a UK-US trade agreement will be completed within the next four years.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday: “Biden has said in the last few weeks that doing trade deals is not a priority for him for at least the first part of his presidency, and my guess is that certainly covers the next 12 months, it may cover the next 24 months.

“When he comes to do one, there are two much bigger trade deals that he could potentially do, rather than a deal with a medium-sized country of 65 million people.

“One is he could resume the talks that never finished in (Barack) Obama’s time on an EU-US free trade deal and the other is that he could take America into the transpacific partnership, which is potentially a huge advantage for America and would start to counter Chinese influence in that region.

“So, honestly, I have my doubts about whether a UK deal will be a priority. I think it’s a stretch to imagine it actually happening in a Biden first term, but we might strike it lucky, we’ll see.”

Britain’s future foreign policy
Britain’s future foreign policy

Mr Biden briefly touched upon the prospect of a UK-US trade deal in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, tweeting in September that Brexit must not jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process.

The 77-year-old, who has Irish roots, wrote: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”