Over the past three years, the DIT has laid the groundwork for an ambitious free trade agreement with the US once we have left the EU, including through the UK-US trade and investment working group, which met for the sixth time in London yesterday. This week, I have been in Washington to discuss the progress of these preparations with my American counterparts and make sure we are ready to grasp this golden opportunity once we have left the EU.
Is it not the case that, notwithstanding the little local difficulty—or even large local difficulty—in Washington DC at the moment, the underlying facts remain that the United Kingdom is the biggest investor in the United States and vice versa, that military and intelligence integration between the United Kingdom and the United States is bigger than any other in the rest of the world and that our strength remains with the United States?
My hon. Friend is correct. The UK and the US have a deep long-standing relationship with a strong and enduring bond. We have a shared heritage, legal system and language, and we co-operate extensively in security, prosperity and defence, and at many levels of our society, culture and economy, our co-operation is closer than that of any other two countries—something that my hon. Friend contributed to in his time as shadow Trade Minister.
Has the Secretary of State woken up to the fact that when we trade with America, and with other countries, we have to take manufacturing very seriously indeed? This also involves our universities. I have a good memory and I remember that, on his first outing, he refused to meet the all-party parliamentary group on manufacturing. He has still not met it. Why does he not take manufacturing seriously? It matters for our trade relationship with America, which is very close.
When it comes to the manufacturing element, we take it very seriously. Our goods exports have actually exceeded the growth in our service exports in recent times, which is testament to the way in which the manufacturing sector has been encouraged and grown under this Government, in stark contrast to what happened under the previous Labour Government, when it shrank substantially.
The Secretary of State is obviously aware of the unprecedented way in which our ambassador in Washington was removed from his post yesterday by the former Foreign Secretary and the President of the United States. Does he think that that will harm or hinder our trade investment with the United States?
I deeply regret the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch, whom I was with actually in the time before his resignation. He was a great, dedicated and professional public servant. I hugely decry the leak that led to that resignation. The leak was unprofessional, unethical and unpatriotic, and I hope that, if we are able to discover the culprit, we will throw the book at them.