U.S., U.K. Won't Have Post-Brexit Trade Agreement Anytime Soon, Boris Johnson Says

A post-Brexit trade agreement between the U.S. and U.K. is not expected anytime soon, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged Wednesday, when he also divulged that a U.S. ban on imported British lamb in place for decades was to be lifted, the Associated Press reported.

Johnson was at the White House Tuesday to meet with President Joe Biden, who did not shut down a suggestion that the U.K. was at the back of the line to obtain a trade deal with the U.S. after Brexit, the AP reported.

"The Biden administration is not doing free trade deals around the world right now, but I've got absolutely every confidence that a great deal is there to be done," Johnson said.

Back when Johnson and other Brexit supporters were pushing for Britain's exit from the European Union, the prime minister set his eyes on the possibility of a beneficial trade agreement with the U.S. that would discard many of the tariffs and quotas placed on goods.

Johnson told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol what the U.K. would get immediately from the U.S. was the lifting of the lamb export ban, which he described as "totally unjustified, discriminating on British farmers and British lamb."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Post-Brexit Trade
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. wasn't expected to be finalized anytime soon. President Joe Biden, right, speaks during a meeting with Johnson in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden has shown little interest in negotiating a trade deal with Britain, partly because of his concerns about the situation in Northern Ireland.

Ahead of his bilateral discussion with Johnson in the White House on Tuesday, Biden voiced worries about the situation in Northern Ireland following recent talks that the British government wants to renegotiate the post-Brexit deal with the EU that it signed at the end of last year.

He said he felt "very strongly" about issues surrounding the peace process, as problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol persisted. Under that Brexit deal, customs and border checks have been imposed on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. in order to prevent a physical border once again being put up between Ireland, which is part of the EU, and Northern Ireland.

One of the significant achievements of Northern Ireland's peace process was the nearly invisible border with Ireland.

"I would not at all like to see, nor, I might add, would many of my Republican colleagues like to see, a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland," said Biden, who has consistently shown pride in his Irish roots.

As well as seeking to respect the rules governing the EU's single market for goods, the regulations seek to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, they have angered Northern Ireland's unionist community, who say the checks amount to a border in the Irish Sea and weaken Northern Ireland's ties with the rest of the U.K.

Since Britain formally left the economic structures of the EU at the start of this year, the country has sought to re-orientate its trade profile away from Europe. For example, it is pushing to join the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is home to around half a billion people in and around the Pacific.

There's even talk now that the British government may look to join the trade partnership between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Biden Meets with Johnson
Unlike former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden doesn't appear to be in any rush to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.K. Biden listens to a question during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP Photo