Rishi Sunak blames war in Ukraine and Covid pandemic for failure to nail down post-Brexit trade deal with US

RISHI Sunak has blamed the war in Ukraine and Covid for the failure to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.

Quizzed in Washington DC why trade talks with the Joe Biden White House have been iced, the PM said the economic situation had change in recent years.


Rishi Sunak has blamed the pandemic and war in Ukraine for failing to secure a free trade agreement with the USCredit: PA

But the PM refused to accept the Government’s failure to strike a free trade accord with the US amounted to a “broken promise” – despite such a deal being pledged in the Tory election manifesto.

Asked about an ambition outlined in before the 2019 general election to complete an agreement within the first three years of Government, the PM said the war in Ukraine and the pandemic meant that the “macroeconomic situation” made it impossible.

But Joe Biden had frozen negotiations long before Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The PM told reporters on his trip to the US: “Since then we’ve had a pandemic, we’ve had a war in Ukraine, and that has changed the macroeconomic situation.

“The right response to that is ensure that we’re focusing our engagement economically on the things that will make the most difference.”

He added: “Actually, what I’ll be talking to President Biden about today is how can the UK and the US work together to ensure security for our citizens?

“I think that’s the thing that we should be focusing on right now.”

Mr Sunak was quizzed about Brexit at a business roundtable in Washington on Thursday morning.

General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra, asked what he hoped to accomplish in terms of the US-U.K. trade relationship when he meets later with President Joe Biden later today.

The PM replied that the CEOs he was addressing were “living proof” that the relationship is “very strong” and that collectively their companies invest hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the U.K. and employ hundreds of thousands of people in the U.K.

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“My job is to convince you that that’s the right decision,” he said.

“Not just for today, but for years into the future as well.”