As she flew to New York for a meeting with Joe Biden, Liz Truss admitted that negotiations for a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US would not resume for years.
The newly-elected UK prime minister emphasised that her top trade priority is to reach agreements with India and the Gulf states, as well as to join a trade pact with nations such as Australia and Japan.
However, she downplayed the chances of talks resuming to reach the comprehensive deal with the States that Brexit supporters touted as a significant benefit of leaving the EU during the referendum.
Truss stated that the agreements with India and other allies are “our trade priorities” ahead of talks with US President Biden at a United Nations summit on Wednesday.
Officials did not deny that Truss effectively conceded that talks with the White House would not resume for years.
Labour called the government’s admission an “embarrassment.”
Biden has slowed trade talks and expressed concerns about the impact of Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol on the peace process.
On the other hand, Truss listed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest trading blocs that include Australia, Canada, and Japan, as one of her top priorities.
The other she cited is the EU’s sixth largest export market, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Labour’s shadow trade secretary, Nick Thomas Symonds, called the admission that there is no prospect of a trade deal with the US “terrible news for the UK economy.”
“There is no doubt that the blame for this mess lies at the door of the Prime Minister, who tarnished the UK’s international reputation as foreign and international trade secretary. This is an embarrassment for Liz Truss.
“The Conservative manifesto promised a trade deal with the United States by the end of this year, now this has no chance of being delivered.”