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Hopes of post-Brexit trade deal with US ‘dead in water’ if Joe Biden beats Donald Trump

Any hopes of a free trade deal between the UK and the USA will be “dead in the water” if Joe Biden is re-elected as US President later this year, a Tory strategist has predicted.

However, Mark Littlewood, chairman of the Popular Conservatism faction, which boasts former PM Liz Truss as one of its members, believes if Donald Trump wins in November, the door remains ajar – although there are clearly no guarantees.

The prospect of a wide-ranging agreement between the two nations has often been held up as the ultimate post-Brexit prize – but, seven years on from the 2016 referendum, it has not so far materialised.

Republican Mr Trump, currently favoured to return to the White House after a four-year absence, made positive noises when he was in the job – but Mr Biden has made it clear such a deal is not a priority for his administration.

Mr Littlewood told Express.co.uk: “I think if Biden is re-elected, this is likely dead in the water. No progress will be made.

“He pulled the plug on it and I have no reason to believe he’ll put the plug back in.”

Mr Littlewood, the former director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), continued: “If Trump is elected, I think the shot is at least on the board.

“I’m not saying we’re home and hosed, but I think it opens up the possibility.

“And then what we mustn’t do is to fall into the ludicrous trap that the EU fell into, which was the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“The idea was that the sort of EU and the USA would announce some absolutely massive comprehensive trade deal which would stay in place for 100 years, and that eventually ran into the sand.

“What you’ve got to do with the US trade deal is pick off one area at a time.

“So perhaps it’s just impossible at this stage to make any agreement on pharmaceutical products to take one example, but it’s relatively easy to make a deal on our agricultural products.

“Fine: get a deal in place on agricultural products, and in two years, go back to the table and see if we can make any progress on pharmaceuticals.”

As a result of Britain’s EU membership, there was a tendency to think of a trade deal as being the last word on a trading relationship between two nations for generations to come, Mr Littlewood pointed out.

He added: “Whereas if you were to look like a country like New Zealand, what they’ve done very well is they see trade deals as an iterative process. You agree what you can, and you keep returning to the table every year, every two years to see if you can get more dealt with and agreed.

“You never reach the final destination never get to the full pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you make incremental progress year on year on year.

“If we approach a US trade deal that way under a Republican administration, I think we’re in with a shot.

“It will be slow incremental progress. But if we aim for that we will make progress rather than having the full final grand US-UK trade deal, the last word on the matter for centuries to come, that is doomed to fail.”


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