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  1. ITV Report

Donald Trump says Boris Johnson is 'right man' to deliver Brexit as they meet on G7 sidelines

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Tom Sheldrick

Donald Trump has said Boris Johnson was the "right man" to deliver Brexit as they met at the G7 summit.

During a breakfast meeting in Biarritz on Sunday morning, the US president was asked what his advice was for Mr Johnson and Brexit. In reply Mr Trump said: "He needs no advice, he is the right man for the job."

Mr Johnson said the President was "on message there".

This was Mr Johnson's first meeting with Mr Trump as Prime Minister.

Downing Street's newest incumbent said he had "formidable respect' for US trade negotiations, adding he was "very excited" about the "comprehensive talks" ahead.

President Donald Trump said Boris Johnson is the 'right man to deliver Brexit'. Credit: PA

"I know they'll be some tough talks ahead," Mr Johnson told reporters, citing pork pies and joints of lamb as areas that represented "huge opportunities" for the UK to "penetrate" the American market.

Asked if he had made clear his views on the NHS and animal welfare in trade talks with Mr Trump, the Prime Minister said: "Not only have I made clear of that, the president has made that very, very clear. There is complete unanimity on that point."

The US President appeared to criticise Mr Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, saying he had been previously "stymied" because "nothing got done on the other side".

"This is a different person and this is a person that’s going to be a great Prime Minister in my opinion," he said.

Leaders pose for the G7 family photo in Biarritz. Credit: AP

Mr Trump has previously been critical of Mrs May's handling of the Brexit negotiations claiming he had given her his ideas but "she didn’t listen".

But talk was not of Brexit alone. The President said the two leaders had a "lively", but "very good discussion on Russia and Putin with Mr Trump adding it was "possible" he will invite Russia to rejoin the G7 when he hosts the summit next year.

Asked if American's allies were pressuring him to give up the trade war with China, Mr Trump said "not at all".

"I think they respect the trade war. China has been, I can only speak for the United States - I can’t say what they’ve been doing to the UK and to other places - but from the standpoint of the United States, what [China] has done is outrageous.

Theresa May and US President Donald Trump during his state visit to the UK in June. Credit: PA

"Presidents and administrations allowed them to get away with taking hundreds of billions of dollars out every year and putting it into China. So the answer is nobody’s told me that. Nobody would tell me that."

In response, Mr Johnson said the UK "did not like tariffs on the whole".

"I just want to say I congratulate the president on everything the American economy is achieving. It's fantastic to see that," he said.

"But just to register the sheeplike note of our view on the trade war: we're in favor of trade peace on the whole. We think that on the whole, the U.K. has profited massively in the last 200 years from free trade and that's what we want to see. So, that's what we're keen to see. We don't like tariffs on the whole."

The two leaders agreed to set up a working group focused on closer economic links.

World Leaders prepare to start a working session on World Economy and Trade on the second day of the G-7 summit. Credit: AP

US director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and UK Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill have been directed to set up the special relationship economic working group (SREWG).

"The SREWG will develop market-oriented principles for economic growth and increase bilateral co-operation on issues related to the modern 21st-century economy," the White House and Number 10 said in a joint statement.

The statement said that during the talks in Biarritz the two leaders discussed how Brexit presented opportunities for "deepening our already robust economic and commercial relationship, including a comprehensive trade agreement".

Mr Johnson is also due to have talks at the G7 with European Council president Donald Tusk.

Reports suggested Mr Johnson will tell Mr Tusk that the UK will only hand over a fraction of the £39 billion divorce bill agreed by Theresa May if there is no Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson ordered Government lawyers to calculate how much of the bill the UK is liable to pay and they concluded it could be as little as £7 billion, the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday reported.