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Biden pours cold water on prospect of early US/UK trade deal

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US president Joe Biden has poured cold water on the prospect of a free trade agreement with the UK as he met Boris Johnson for talks in the White House.

Sitting alongside the prime minister, Mr Biden said that the pair would talk about trade “a little bit” and said that the issue would have to be “worked through”.

And he again cautioned Mr Johnson not to allow rows with Brussels over the implementation of Brexit to put at risk peace in Northern Ireland by closing the border with the Republic.

His comments came shortly after Mr Johnson was forced to accept that his long-cherished dream of a swift post-Brexit trade deal with the US was dead.

Speaking ahead of the Oval Office meeting, Mr Johnson admitted the deal was low on the president’s list of priorities, telling reporters: “Joe has a lot of fish to fry.”

Asked by UK reporters about the potential for an FTA, Mr Biden said: “On a Brexit free trade... We’re going to talk a little bit about trade today and we’re going to have to work that through.”

Mr Biden said he feels “very strongly” that he does not want a change to the “Irish accords” resulting in “a closed border”.

Asked about a UK-US trade deal, the US President told reporters in the Oval Office: “To do with the UK, that’s continuing to be discussed.

“But on the protocols I feel very strongly on those. We spent an enormous amount of time and effort, the United States, it was a major bipartisan effort made.

“And I would not at all like to see, nor I might add would many of my Republican colleagues like to see, a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland.”

Mr Johnson responded: “On that point, Joe, we are completely at one. Nobody wants to see anything that interrupts or unbalances the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”

In more welcome comments for Mr Johnson, Biden repeated his assurance that he will attend the UN COP26 climate change summit being hosted by the PM in Glasgow in November, saying the US would be there “with bells on”.

The US president said: “As we look ahead to the UK hosting Cop26, which I’m really anxious to attend in Glasgow in November.

“We’re going to be there with bells on, as they say.”

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