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January 14, 2020

US ready to sign trade deal with UK after Brexit: Raab

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January 14, 2020

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said his US counterpart told him that Washington “is poised at the doorstep, pen in hand, ready to sign a deal” on trade.

Opening Queen’s Speech debate on Britain’s place in the world, Raab also said leaving the EU will give the country the chance to boost its global presence.

He told MPs: “We will strengthen our historic trade ties as we leave the EU whilst boosting Britain’s competitiveness by tapping wide and global markets.

“And we want strong trade with our existing partners — they are important and valuable as a market to us, I don’t think anyone doubts that.

“At the same time we’re making good progress in paving the way for our first round of future free trade agreements with the rest of the world, and when I was out in the US, secretary of state Mike Pompeo told me in Washington that the US is poised at the doorstep, pen in hand, ready to sign a deal.

“And a free trade deal with the US would boost businesses, it would create jobs, it would reduce the cost of living and expand consumer choice on both sides of the Atlantic. So there is a huge opportunity for a win-win deal.”

Raab added: “This year we have the opportunity — and I think the honour and the privilege — to host the UN climate change summit, COP 26, in Glasgow, and that is the UK’s chance to demonstrate global leadership on climate change.

“Under the Conservatives, we’re the first country to legislate to end our contribution to global warming.”

His opposite number, Labour leadership contender Emily Thornberry, attacked Boris Johnson’s record when he was foreign secretary, comparing him to Dorothy’s three bumbling companions in The Wizard Of Oz.

She said: “We now have a Prime Minister in place... for the next five years with no heart when it comes to human rights and civilian deaths, no brain when it comes to Donald Trump and the fate of jailed Britons, and no courage when it comes to taking on tyrants overseas.

“When it comes to foreign policy, he’s the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion rolled into one.” She was nearly censured by deputy Commons speaker Dame Eleanor Laing following apoint of order by Tory backbencher James Gray, who questioned if her remarks were “in the highest standards of this House”.

Dame Eleanor said: “I’m sure the right honourable lady will note that I was listening very carefully and my interpretation was that had the right honourable lady said that any member of this House was a Cowardly Lion, or words to that effect, I would have stopped her. “But I have given her the benefit of the doubt in that she was drawing an allegory from a well-known piece of fiction.”

Labour’s Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) urged the Government not to become dependent on “volatile” US president Donald Trump after Brexit.

She said: “We do not want for example to be in a position of following the United States in regards to precarious working conditions, exorbitant health costs or chlorinated chicken. But these would clearly be on the table in any deal.”

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