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Vice President Mike Pence was in London yesterday (Thursday 5 September) as part of a planned visit to the UK. During the visit, the VP met with Prime Minister Johnson ahead of bilateral talks at Number 10 Downing Street, before attending an evening International Trade Dinner at London's Guildhall.
During the meeting with Johnson, the Vice President said that "I spoke to President Trump this morning — your friend — and he asked me to send you his very best greetings and to assure you that the United States supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. But he also wanted me to convey that the United States is ready, willing, and able to immediately negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK ... The President often says that the United States has the biggest economy in the world, and we truly believe that a free trade agreement between the United States and the UK could increase trade between our countries by three or four times. We’re anxious to do that. We’re anxious to stand with you and to do everything in our power to strengthen what has been a historic and special relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. And it is embodied in the very warm and personal relationship that you have forged with President Trump, with myself, and with our administration. And I am truly honored to be here."
During the discussion, Prime Minister Johnson highlighted the importance of fairness in a trade agreement, saying that " it is still the case that, you know, the United States of America — the people of the United States of America – don’t eat any British lamb or beef or haggis from Scotland. I think there are still barriers to trade in shower trays, would you believe it, from the UK, so — and many other products where we think we could free up the US market. And I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators. So we’re going to work very hard to make sure that that free trade deal is one that works for all sides."
Johnson also reiterated that "the National Health Service is not on the table as far as our negotiations go."
At an International Trade Dinner at the Guildhall later in the evening, which was attended by the US Ambassador Woody Johnson, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss and others, Vice President Pence continued highlighting the potential of a UK-US Free Trade Agreement by exclaiming "the President told me today to tell Prime Minister Johnson that when Brexit is complete, we will begin negotiations on a free trade agreement right away. Our message is clear: The minute the UK is out, America is in." The VP went on to say that "we know a trade deal with the United States isn’t the sum of your ambitions, it’s only the beginning. I believe if we’re to ensure that the 21st century witnesses a renaissance of commerce between freedom-loving countries, it’ll be the United States and the United Kingdom that lead the way."