1. ITV Report

UK 'front of the line' in post-Brexit trade talks, says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Weiner

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the UK will be "at the front of the line" to secure a future trade deal between the two nations post-Brexit.

As Mr Pompeo and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab emphasised the bond of between the two countries at a Policy Exchange public sit-down in London, the UK's decision to allow Huawei to develop its 5G network and the US refusal to extradite the suspect in the Harry Dunn death case could threaten to undermine relations.

Mr Pompeo also raised the issue of Huawei with Boris Johnson at Downing Street, making it clear Washington still had deep concerns over the Chinese firm's involvement in Britain's 5G development.

US 'working on' Harry Dunn resolution

Following Harry Dunn's death near an RAF base last year, the UK has formally asked the US to extradite Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, to face charges in Britain.

However the US has so far been reluctant to extradite Ms Sacoolas.

Mr Pompeo expressed sympathy with Mr Dunn's family today but refused to say whether she would return to the UK, adding he was working towards a "resolution that reflects the tragedy that took place".

He said: "This was an enormous tragedy. An American had an accident here and the US is terribly sorry for the loss which took place... it was horrible.

"We're doing everything we can do to make that right, that I think, protects the important relationship between the two countries and we will continue to work on this."

Mr Pompeo revealed the Foreign Secretary had raised the issue of Harry Dunn "every time we've spoken".

Mr Raab added: "We want to see justice done for the family and we want to make sure it will never happen again.

"We want to see this get resolved."

UK at 'front of the line' in trade talks with US

With the European Parliament voting overwhelmingly to approve the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Wednesday, the UK is now set to leave the EU on January 31 and attention will soon turn to future trade deals.

Britain has touted its relationship with the US as the pathway towards securing a trade deal once it leaves the EU, and Mr Pompeo again reiterated a promise to put the UK at the "front of the queue".

Mr Pompeo took a swipe against the Obama administration, with the former US president claiming in the run-up to the EU referendum that the UK would be at the "back of the queue" should it vote for Brexit.

The US Secretary of State said: "The previous administration took the view that if the UK took this decision, they'd be at the back of the line.

"We intend to put the UK at the front of the line. This is a historic relationship between our two countries."

He added: "You talked about a trade deal, we were just at a company here in the UK that has started in North Carolina and has a huge operation here in the UK.

"Talented human capital and democracy are what brings people together to do great things together and our two nations share that."

UK-US special relationship 'not at risk' over Huawei

The US has been an outspoken critic of the UK's decision to allow Chinese tech firm Huawei to play a vital part in helping build the country's 5G network infrastructure.

Both Mr Pompeo and Mr Raab were quick to play down their difference of opinion, but both stood firmly by their nation's respective decisions.

"With the strongest friends, you have the strongest conversations and you have the maturity and the bandwidth to deal with the creases that come along with it," Mr Raab said.

Pompeo said the US-UK special relationship was 'not at risk'. Credit: PA

"This isn't anything new. If you look back to Churchill, Roosevelt, Thatcher, Reagan, it wasn't all a bed of roses, but actually if you have a special relationship, you work your way through your issues."

Mr Pompeo added: "It's your best friends you call up and ask 'what the heck are you doing?'

"It's your best friends you call up and ask if you're thinking about doing x, y or z. You can't have those conversations without that deep relationship because if you do that with people you don't have that relationship with, you risk the relationship.

"This relationship is not at risk."