Boris Johnson was grilled by Gary Gibbon during a press junket with the journalist demanding to know why the UK was now “at the back of the queue” of any potential free trade deal with the US. The Prime Minister stuttered as he poorly attempted to defend himself against criticisms he wrongly predicted the UK would easily secure a deal with the US after Brexit. But, awkwardly, as Mr Johnson got back into the swing of things by listing off the UK’s successes after leaving the EU he wondered why Mr Gibbon was being so “passive” to which the reporter pointed out he was being told to “shut up” by the PM’s aids.
Mr Johnson has come under pressure to secure an important free trade deal with America after promising a deal would be easily achieved post-Brexit.
However, he acknowledged the US/UK trade deal was not a top priority for Joe Biden before the pair met on Tuesday.
The PM also noted it was better to come up with a well thought out deal rather than a rushed one, noting the Americans can be tough negotiators.
When he took office, Mr Johnson was hoping to secure a free trade deal with Donald Trump who appeared keen on the agreement.
Mr Johnson was grilled on the progress with Mr Gibbon saying: “You’re about to see President Biden, you told everyone in 2016 a US free trade deal was there for the taking…”
The PM disagreed and said the president at the time, Barack Obama, was the one who said that before he was corrected by Mr Gibbon who said Democrat leader said the UK would, in fact, be “at the back of the queue”.
A confused Mr Johnson stuttered and said it was Donald Trump who wanted a “rapid” trade deal with Mr Gibbon again attacking the Prime Minister for “quibbling” with Mr Obama’s view that the UK would not be prioritised for a trade deal post-Brexit.
Mr Johnson added: “Gary, what President Obama did was he came and made comments in the middle of a referendum campaign which I disagreed with.
Mr Johnson laughed and said the lifting of scotch whisky tariffs and the reintroduction of foreign travel could be seen as a victory.
Sky News Political Editor Beth Rigby also spoke to Mr Johnson during the media round and wanted to know when the trade deal with the US could be secured.
After an aggressive back and forth, Mr Johnson could not guarantee the trade could be signed by 2024.
He concluded by saying: “We’re going to go as fast as we can.”