- Boris Johnson says opponents of a trade deal with the US are “juvenile” and “conspiracy theorists.”
- The prime minister said he could not wait to “get going” with negotiating a trade deal with Trump — and told staunch opponents of a trade agreement to “grow up” and “get a grip.”
- Johnson dismissed suggestions that such a deal would give US firms access to the NHS and flood Britain’s markets with lower-quality food.
- Britain left the EU on Friday, and has made striking a deal with the US one of its first priorities.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Boris Johnson has told opponents of a post-Brexit free trade deal with the United States to “grow up” and “get a grip.”
In a speech in south London on Monday, the United Kingdom’s prime minister said that some opponents of a free trade deal with the Donald Trump administration are “naive and juvenile anti-Americans.”
Johnson delivered a speech on Britain’s trading ambitions after the country completed its departure from the European Union.
Speaking to an audience which included Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, the prime minister said he cannot wait to “get going with our friends” in the US on a trade deal, and attacked those who have warned against it.
“And I say to all the naïve and juvenile anti-Americans in this country if there are any – there seem to be some — I say grow up – and get a grip,” Johnson said.
“The US already buys one fifth of everything we export.”
Opponents of a deal with the Trump administration warn that it could give US firms access to the National Health Service. They also say it would open up British markets to US food products which are of a lower hygiene standard.
However, Johnson dismissed these concerns, and dubbed those who express them “conspiracy theorists.”
The prime minister said: “And it goes without saying to all those conspiracy theorists who may still be in existence, all those believers in the Bermuda Triangle or who think that Elvis will be found on Mars, it goes without saying that of course the NHS is not on the table.”
“And no we will not accept any diminution in food hygiene or animal welfare standards.”
“But I must say to the America bashers in this country if there are any that in doing free trade deals we will be governed by science and not by mumbo-jumbo because the potential is enormous.”
Johnson sets up trade showdown with Brussels
While Johnson spoke enthusiastically about negotiating a trade deal with the US, he accused the Trump administration and other actors of a protectionist approach to trade which has “choked” global growth.
“I’m afraid it is the politicians who are failing to lead, the mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground. From Brussels to China to Washington, tariffs are being waved around like cudgels.”
“There is an ever-growing proliferation of non-tariff barriers, and the resulting tensions are letting the air out of the tires of the world economy,” the UK prime minister said.
On a trade deal with the EU, Johnson set himself on a collision course with Brussels, warning the bloc that he would rather walk away without a free trade agreement than sign Britain up to EU rules and regulations.
The prime minister said his government wanted a Canada-style free trade with the EU but would adopt Australia’s approach to the bloc if talks break down.
Australia does not have a free trade deal with the EU, and trades largely on World Trade Organisation with the 27 EU member states.
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