In his first major speech after the UK exits the bloc, the Prime Minister is set to confirm Britain will negotiate simultaneously with US President Donald Trump and Brussels in order to strike a free-trade deal before the December 31 deadline, the Financial Times reports. Downing Street sources say Boris Johnson will publish the timetable for talks just days after Britain leaves the European Union on January 31. Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, has already held talks with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss last Thursday.
It is understood the US trade official suggested a deal could be reached by the summer and Washington was “prepared to move heaven and earth” to get an agreement over the line.
One US official said: “He suggested he was prepared to move heaven and earth to get something tied up by the summer.”
The US President has constantly championed the prospect of a “very substantial” trade deal between the UK and US.
In July, during his visit to the UK, Mr Trump insisted a trade deal could lead to a “three to four, five times” increase in current trade.
Further talks by senior members of Mr Johnson’s cabinet including Ms Truss, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, are expected to take place in Thursday.
On the agenda the Prime Minister’s top team will set out plans to strike further trade deals with the rest of the world including Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The US may have a head-start in post-Brexit negotiations after EU said talks may not commence until March.
The European Commission said it would “take some time” for the bloc to agree its position.
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said: “This, we know, will take some time, which is why we have said we will start negotiations as quickly as we can, but it will certainly not be before the end of February, beginning of March.
“This is not a slowing down or speeding up of the process.
“This is simply the nature of the institutional process and the consultations that need to take place before the negotiation directives can be formally adopted.”
The Prime Minister has said negotiation can begin on February 1 and reiterated Britain will not extend the transition period.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are free to begin discussions with countries around the world from February 1.
“We are ready to begin discussions with the EU from February 1.
“The EU have various processes to go through before they are ready to sit down and have those discussions with us.
“The EU have agreed formally to complete this process by December 2020, that is what we would expect to be achieved.”