Kerry Says No U.S.-U.K. Trade Deal Until Brexit Talks Concluded

  • Secretary of state lauds special relationship at Johnson talks
  • New U.K. foreign secretary won’t apologize for past comments

U.S.-U.K. Trade Deal Held Until Brexit Talks Conclude

There can be no trade deal between Britain and the U.S. until the country’s exit from the European Union is complete, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“Though clearly you can begin to pencil things in, you can’t ink them in, and that’s entirely right and proper,” Johnson told reporters in London Tuesday when asked about the possibility of a bilateral post-Brexit trade agreement. Kerry told a joint news conference with Johnson that it would be “physically impossible” to negotiate a deal with the U.K. while it remains part of the EU. 

QuickTake Brexit’s Ripples

The comments came after Johnson and Kerry said the “special relationship” between the two countries would continue despite last month’s Brexit vote. After a meeting in which the two discussed foreign-policy issues including the Middle East, Kerry said he’s “absolutely confident” the countries will continue to have “special and unbreakable ties.”

The attempt to offer continuity on diplomatic policy comes as the new U.K. government under Prime Minister Theresa May seeks to end weeks of turmoil in British politics following the Brexit vote. Kerry said he’s “gratified by the reassurances” he got at a meeting with May Tuesday morning. She’s “clearly ready to hit the ground running,” he said.

Johnson, a key proponent of Brexit who was surprisingly named as foreign secretary by May after he pulled out from challenging her for the premiership, was grilled by reporters on previous gaffes. The former London mayor, who said during the referendum campaign that President Barack Obama’s “part-Kenyan” ancestry made him hostile to Britain and previously compared presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” refused to apologize for any past undiplomatic remarks.

“There is such a rich thesaurus now of things that I’ve said that have been, one way or another, through what alchemy I do not know, somehow misconstrued that it would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology to all concerned,” Johnson said.

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