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Top British ministers in USA to 'fast-track' post-Brexit deal

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Boris Johnson

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.

He said he hoped to conclude a new trade deal with the USA "as soon as possible after we leave the European Union on October 31".

After meeting US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Raab expressed his appreciation for the "president's warmth and enthusiasm for the UK-US relationship".

Raab later added that recently-seated British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "resolved" to leave the European Union by the end of October, but said the United Kingdom will remain "good friends, and good neighbors" with Europe. "And we'll be on the doorstep, pen in hand, ready to sign a new free trade agreement at the earliest possible time".

Mr Varadkar restated his invitation for the new prime minister to visit Dublin to discuss the Brexit impasse, Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations.

Meanwhile, Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, travelling with Raab, had lined up meetings with top American officials including Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"Negotiating and signing an exciting new free trade agreement with the U.S. is one of my top priorities", said Ms Truss, who was a cheerleader for the "leave" camp in the 2016 referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.

'Having already laid the groundwork, we are fast-tracking this deal so that businesses are able to take advantage of the golden opportunity to increase trade with the United States as soon as possible'.

But in a huge vote of confidence in the Boris administration, Mr Trump called him into his office for the surprise talks.

However, US politicians have warned that Congress is unlikely to sign off on any deal if Brexit has put the peace process in Ireland at risk.

Boris Johnson, who became prime minister in July, hopes that his warm relationship with President Donald Trump will lead to a bilateral trade deal with the US.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Britain has been one of the top 10 trading partners for the past decade and almost 43,000 companies export to the U.K. In the first five months of this year, two-way trade between the nations amounted to $54.9 billion.

In an interview with the i newspaper in Belfast, Mr Varadkar said: "We ended up with the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop because of all the red lines that were drawn up by the British government".

"It is simply saying "No, we don't want to talk". It needs an agreement very soon.

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