The third negotiating round of the UK-US free trade agreement took place from 27 July to 7 August 2020. I can announce today that the next round will start next Tuesday— 8 September. In parallel with the negotiations, my right hon. Friend the International Trade Secretary held a series of meetings in early August with the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.
Given the impending failure of the Prime Minister’s fictitious oven-ready deal with the EU, how much leverage, or lack of leverage, will that failure give the Secretary of State in her negotiating position with whichever candidate wins the US November presidential elections, and what impact will that have on a UK economy already battered by covid-19 and a no-deal Brexit?
The hon. Gentleman started off with a bit of a misnomer. Let me report from the most recent round of negotiations with the EU: our negotiator reported that these talks were part of the intensified process; they had had good talks around the Court of Justice and the EU’s concerns about the complex Switzerland-style set of agreements, and so on. So actually that was quite a positive round.
In terms of the US, clearly we keep channels of communication open—we talk with all parts of the US political system. We make sure that Senators, Members of Congress and Governors, from both parties and throughout the United States, buy into a future UK-US free trade agreement.