London, United Kingdom - Vice President Pence and Prime Minister Johnson of the United Kingdom Before Bilateral Meeting Thursday:
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Good afternoon, everybody. Mike, Vice President, have a seat. Thank you so much. Well, it’s fantastic to welcome you to Number 10, Mr. Vice President, Mike. Great to have you here.
And I had an absolutely wonderful time at the G7, and with President Trump talking about all the things that we’re going to try to do together — free trade, all that. And I hope very much to take that forward today in our discussions.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for such a warm welcome.
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Absolutely. It’s great to see you again.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And a very busy time here in the United Kingdom.
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Always busy.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I’m grateful for your hospitality.
I spoke to President Trump this morning — your friend — and he asked me to send you his very best greetings and to assure you that the United States supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. But he also wanted me to convey that the United States is ready, willing, and able to immediately negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK.
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Fantastic.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: The President often says that the United States has the biggest economy in the world, and we truly believe that a free trade agreement between the United States and the UK could increase trade —
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: It could.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: — between our countries by three or four times. We’re anxious to do that. We’re anxious to stand with you and to do everything in our power to strengthen what has been a historic and special relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. And it is embodied in the very warm and personal relationship that you have forged with President Trump, with myself, and with our administration. And I am truly honored to be here.
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Mike, it’s fantastic to have you here. And we will drive that free trade agreement forward. Of course, the U.S. economy is a wonderful, massive opportunity for UK folks.
But it is still the case that, you know, the United States of America — the people of the United States of America – don’t eat any British lamb or beef or haggis from Scotland. I think there are still barriers to trade in shower trays, would you believe it, from the UK, so — and many other products where we think we could free up the U.S. market.
And I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators. So we’re going to work very hard to make sure that that free trade deal is one that works for all sides.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, he told me this morning — he said, “You tell my friend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that we’re ready to go to work on that free trade agreement just as soon as you’re ready,” and, again, to make it clear to you that the United States supports the UK’s decision to leave the EU. And we’re ready to build this economic relationship immediately.
PRIME MINISTER JOHNSON: Fantastic. And, of course, we won’t be — and we will make sure that we do everything to increase free trade. But the National Health Service — is always worth saying, to (inaudible) of UK media — the National Health Service is not on the table as far as our negotiations go. And nor — we’re not too keen on that chlorinated chicken, either. We have a gigantic chlorinated chicken of our own here on the opposition benches.
Anyway. I’m being — (laughter) — I’m being asked — I’m being asked to stop.
Thank you all very much for coming along today.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you all.