Joe Biden pressured by allies to ‘get trade deal with EU before UK’ amid Brexit row

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President-elect Biden could have a huge influence on the success of Brexit Britain as Prime Minister Boris Johnson eyes up a US-UK trade deal. There is currently a deadline for April this year, and talks remain finely balanced as US President Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House. Mr Trump had made progress with the UK on some issues, but sticking points on pharmaceutical regulation, textiles, trading standards and intellectual property are yet to be resolved. But it looks increasingly likely President-elect Biden will scupper a trade deal.

This is because one figure in Washington has urged him to work with the EU first before turning to the UK.

Representative Gregory Meeks, who starting in January will be the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “I think we should look at what we would do with the EU first. Then we can look at the UK also.”

This could indicate that Democrats are hoping to strike a trade deal with Brussels before London.

And even before that can happen, Mr Biden has already said he will not prioritise forging new international trade deals.

He instead said his administration will concentrate on investment at home, meaning the UK may have to wait a lengthy amount of time for a free trade agreement with Washington.

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Mr Biden said: “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education.”

Speaking to the New York Times, he added: “I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first.”

In 2016, in the lead-up to the UK’s referendum on EU membership, Mr Biden warned that Brexit could “diminish” US interest in London.

Having also clashed with Mr Johnson over the border in Ireland in recent months, relations between the US and the UK remain frosty.

This means the EU could be Mr Biden’s priority in Europe, and a former senior American diplomat predicted the President-elect will turn to France and its president Emmanuel Macron for partnership.

They told Politico: “What will really irritate the UK is we will now return to engaging the EU as an essential partner, and it’s fair to see France as on the up.”

Ellen Laipson, director of George Mason University’s Centre for Security Policy Studies, added: “France is the one that still aspires to be a global actor and has more ambition.”

Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, cast a shadow over the prospect of a US-UK trade deal.

Professor Winters told “The chances of a trade deal with the US in the near future are really low.

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“Americans want things out of the deal that are pretty unpalatable in the UK, such as chlorinated chicken and access to a pharmaceutical market at high prices.

“Basically all things that the UK Government has already said it cannot give.

“Now, they are not going to slip it through with Trump and Biden has lots of other things on his mind.

“He almost certainly will not appoint a trade representative to oversee the negotiations for a month or two.”

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