Donald Trump and Raab hold White House meeting – major free trade boost

We appreciate the president’s warmth and enthusiasm for the UK-US relationship.

Dominic Raab

The Foreign Office said Mr Raab met the president and Vice President Mike Pence in Washington on Tuesday evening on the second leg of his tour of North America. In a brief statement, Mr Raab said: “I was delighted to meet the president and the vice president on my first visit to Washington as Foreign Secretary. “We appreciate the president’s warmth and enthusiasm for the UK-US relationship.

“The UK looks forward to working with our American friends to reach a free trade deal that is good for both countries, and co-operating on the common security challenges we face.”

Earlier, in a Twitter posting, Mr Raab said that he had held “wide-ranging talks” with Mr Pence on a series of issues including China, Iran and a post-Brexit trade deal.

No further details of the meeting were immediately available, with Mr Trump yet to make any reference to Mr Raab on Twitter – the US President’s most recent post took a pot shot at Democratic Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, whom he described as a having “phony” Hispanic heritage.

However, Mr Trump has previously voiced his enthusiasm for the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after relations with Theresa May soured during her final days in office – at which time the outspoken billionaire also aimed several characteristic barbs in her direction.

Mr Raab is due to have further discussions on Wednesday with other senior administration figures, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

He flew into the US capital after talks on Tuesday in Toronto with Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.

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Speaking afterwards he said: “Chrystia and I agreed on the need for seamless transition. We’re going to be looking into taking that work forward with officials in our teams in the weeks ahead in the run-up to the end of October.

“I’m pleased to be able to say in Canada that, for the UK, Brexit is not just about risk management, although that’s important and I wouldn’t want to be glib or not take that very seriously.

“But it is also – and our prime minister has been very clear about that – about grasping the enormous opportunities of our two countries.”

Following his meetings in Washington, he is due to travel on to Mexico.

Mr Raab, defeated by Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party leadership contest, replaced Jeremy Hunt on the day the new Prime Minister came into office.

Speaking on Newsnight last month, Mr Raab distanced himself from remarks made by then-UK Ambassador to the US Kim Darroch in confidential memos critical of Mr Trump, describing them as wrong.

At the time, host Emily Maitlis pressed him over Mr Johnson’s own characterisation of Mr Trump, while serving as London Mayor, as “stupefyingly ignorant” and “unfit to hold the office of President”, asking: “Are you going to break that news to Donald Trump?”

Mr Raab defended Mr Johnson’s position, adding: “He wasn’t our ambassador in Washington dealing with the American government when he made them.”

Speaking in a Tory leadership debate in June, Mr Raab said comments made by Mr Trump about London Mayor Sadiq Khan were not ”helpful, savoury or constructive”.

(More to follow)

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