Trump backs Johnson over Brexit

U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 25 August, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 25 August, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the "right man" for Brexit as the two leaders held a warm first meeting at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.


"He's going to be a fantastic prime minster," Trump said in their first face-to-face meeting since Johnson took office last month.

Asked what his advice was for Brexit, Trump replied: "He needs no advice. He's the right man for the job. I've been saying that for a long time. It didn't make your predecessor happy..."

Trump's undiplomatic outbursts often targeted Johnson's predecessor Theresa May.

The British Prime Minister is trying to steer his country out of the European Union free trade bloc and a bilateral deal with the United States would be a major part of London's new go-it-alone strategy.

Big deals on the horizon

Johnson promised that "we are going to do a fantastic deal once we clear some of the obstacles in our path".

Trump said that a "very big trade deal, bigger than we've ever had" was possible "quickly".

Asked how soon negotiations might wrap up on a US-British trade agreement, Trump said "pretty quickly. We're not anticipating a problem."

The devil in the detail

However, the two men have several issues to iron out.

Johnson a day earlier urged Trump to remove the "considerable barriers" impeding UK companies exports to the US.

He had also said that US digital giants like Facebook and Google needed to be taxed "fairly and properly" on their revenues.

This idea doesn't go down well with Trump who has already openly criticised France for imposing a digital media tax which affects American companies.

Trade war with China

Johnson has also registered his disapproval of Trump's trade war with China, which EU leaders have warned is hitting economic growth around the world and risks causing recessions.

"Just to register a faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war, we are in favour of trade peace on the whole," Johnson said.

But Trump denied that his trade war with China is causing friction at the G7 summit, but indicated he will hold off from a threatened further escalation for now.

"I think they respect the trade war. It has to happen," Trump told reporters on Sunday.

Asked if the other leaders had criticized the massive trade struggle, he said "no, not at all. I haven't heard that".

"Before I arrived in France, the Fake and Disgusting News was saying that relations with the 6 others countries in the G-7 are very tense, and that the two days of meetings will be a disaster," Trump tweeted on Sunday morning.

"Well, we are having very good meetings, the Leaders are getting along very well, and our Country, economically, is doing great - the talk of the world!" he added.

Trade deals expected with Japan

In fact, Trump had positive things to say when it came to trade deals with Japan.

Speaking shortly before holding talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the US is "very close to a major deal with Japan."

The two sides have "been working on it for five months."

Earlier, Japan's minister in charge of trade talks with the US, Toshimitsu Motegi, reported "great progress".

Negotiators have agreed Japan will place tariffs on US agricultural products up to levels that apply to members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact, Japan's public broadcaster NHK and major Japanese national dailies reported.

Japan has repeatedly said the extent of the opening up of its agricultural market would be within the concession it had made to members of the TPP pact.

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