BORIS Johnson is expected to tell Donald Trump the NHS is off the table during Brexit trade deal talks – as he prepares to make his first major appearance on the world stage as prime minister.
The PM will meet the US President over breakfast on Sunday at the G7 summit in Biarritz in what will be their first face-to-face discussion since he entered Downing Street.
Mr Johnson will make clear his red lines for a deal when he meets Mr Trump, taking the NHS “off the table” in negotiations, the Daily Telegraph reported. Earlier this month Mr Johnson announced a cash boost of £1.8bn for NHS hospitals in England.
He will also insist the UK maintains its current standards on animal welfare and food hygiene following claims he was set to allow the import of chlorinated chicken.
Mr Trump has repeatedly praised Mr Johnson, calling him “Britain’s Trump” and stressing their “very good relationship”.
The pair spoke on the phone this evening ahead of their meeting, their fourth official phone call since Mr Johnson took office a month ago and the second call this week.
Downing Street is eager to capitalise on the closeness of the relationship as Britain prepares to leave the EU on Halloween – but is desperate not to be seen as Trump’s puppet.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Mr Johnson of pursuing a “Trump first” foreign policy.
Trump’s officials are “very enthusiastic” about the prospect of a trade deal – or a series of mini agreements – and want to make progress quickly.
But the British side is adamant it wants to secure the right deal rather than a quick agreement, even though it is seen as a major post-Brexit prize.
A UK Government spokesman said: “Of course we want to move quickly, but we want to get the right deal that works for both sides.”
Trump’s officials have privately been making clear they would be “100%” behind a no deal Brexit ahead of Sunday’s meeting.
UK sources believe they’re deliberately playing up a trade deal to help No 10 in its crunch talks with Brussels, the Telegraph reported.
The two leaders will use the meeting in France to agree to start work on a negotiations timetable.
They will then shake hands on the plan when they meet in New York in the last week of September at the UN General Assembly.
Despite the desire for a trade deal and the close relationship between the pair, the UK and US are split over major international issues.
The UK remains committed the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate change accord, both of which Mr Trump has pulled out of, and it also has concerns over the US-China trade dispute.
Mr Johnson was in a bullish mood ahead of the summit, which starts tomorrow.
He said: “Some people question the democratic decision this country has made, fearing that we will retreat from the world. Some think Britain’s best days are behind us.
“To those people I say: you are gravely mistaken.”
His comments will be seen as a rebuke to Emmanuel Macron after the French president suggested that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could see Britain as a “junior partner” in a position of “historic vassalisation”.
As well as meeting Mr Trump, and the Canadian, Japanese and Italian leaders, Mr Johnson will also hold his first face-to-face discussions with the European council president, Donald Tusk, as the government works to meet what the PM has called the “blistering” 30 day timetable for reworking the Brexit deal.
Following his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Macron the PM said the “mood music” was positive but stressed that getting changes to the Withdrawal Agreement would not be easy and he was “telling people not to hold their breath” for a breakthrough.