Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's whirlwind trip to Washington DC

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the press on his trip Washington DC. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister has just landed in Washington DC for a whirlwind trip, in which he will meet US President Joe Biden, host round tables with Senate and House Committee chairs, attend a baseball match, and meet US business leaders. 

High on the agenda will be Ukraine - including the response to the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.

But as well as critical defence links, Rishi Sunak wants to discuss economic security - and ways to better protect British and American industries from hostile states.

Giving the example of Vladimir Putin driving up European energy prices, he wants to argue that economic and defence cooperation must be the “two pillars” of the UK-US alliance.

And the PM also hopes to raise Britain’s status on the world stage when it comes to efforts to regulate Artificial Intelligence.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Maryland, ahead of his visit to Washington RE Credit: PA

Reports suggest the PM was given a list of possible areas for the UK to try to become a world-leader in post-Brexit, with others including space and semi-conductors.

In opting for AI - he has chosen an issue that has started to attract terrifying warnings - with two open letters in recent months.

One that included people who’ve been described as the godfathers of AI said “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority”. 

The other - which has been signed by Elon Musk as well as those running companies at the forefront of this technology - said even the creators did not know how to control these machines.

It calls for a pause in the most advanced development as it warns of a world in which machines flood our information systems with propaganda, automate away all jobs, and create non-human minds that can outsmart and ultimately replace us. 

Mr Sunak wants the UK to be the place that hosts a key AI summit, that drives a new regulatory body to place safeguards on global development (similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency) and to develop a new CERN-style research centre.

But the challenge he has is playing catch up to work already done by the US and EU as part of their Trade and Technology Council.

It has come up with a code of conduct it wants to ask other G7 countries - including the UK- to sign up to. 

The PM could also raise questions about President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act- a £350 billion package that includes subsidies to promote green technologies.

In January, Grant Shapps - who was then business secretary and is now energy secretary- suggested that the package was “dangerous” because it risked a slide towards protectionism even if that wasn’t the intention. 

Some other countries have claimed the scheme could breach World Trade Organisation rules. 

Later, Mr Shapps suggested he had assurances from the US that the “rough edges” would be taken off the IRA, suggesting the UK does not need to put up its own subsidies because it already has a head start on green tech. 

Asked about the comments and what he was expecting from President Biden while heading to Washington DC, Mr Sunak said the issue would be discussed but insisted that out of G7 countries, the UK had decarbonised the most since 1990, while also having strong growth.

“Our record on this is very strong. We’ve created lots of jobs and reduced carbon faster than anyone else.”

Pressed on Biden’s shift to a more protectionist position, the PM responded: “I’d point out to the language in the G7 communique, which makes it very clear that G7 countries don’t believe in protectionism as the answer to this challenge and also don’t believe in subsidy races that are zero sum.

“Now all countries are going to invest in making sure they can transition to net zero. We’ve got a head start over everybody because we decarbonised faster.”

The PM pointed to Britain’s success in off short wind and carbon capture and storage. 

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