11:05 GMT11 August 2020
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    Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson could be announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership race and therefore the nation's next prime minister. He said that he wants to secure a Brexit deal with the EU but is prepared to formally initiate the split without an agreement in place.

    Johnson will reportedly aim to strike a trade deal with the United States by the Brexit deadline and set it as one of his core priorities, if he eventually takes the office of UK prime minister.

    Yannis Koutsomitis, a political and economic analyst, based in Belgium shared his insights on the issue.

    Sputnik: It is expected that Boris Johnson will aim to strike a trade deal with the United States by the Brexit deadline and set it as one of his core priorities if he becomes UK PM. In your view, why is this a priority for Johnson?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: Johnson probably believes that getting a preferential trade agreement with the US will be relatively easy, since he maintains a close relationship with President Trump.

    However, this is a flawed idea, since in the US the federal states play a crucial role in trade regulations and the Congress would need to ratify such an agreement on a pre-election year.

    Sputnik: In your view, how might such a position affect Johnson’s chances of becoming prime minister?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: It is quite likely that the majority of the Conservative party electorate will be fascinated with the idea of a quick trade agreement with the US because of Boris Johnson's Trump link, unless there is credible debunking of his claims by trusted Tory figures.

    Sputnik: How could such a statement affect the negotiating process with the EU on the Brexit deal if Boris Johnson occupies No. 10?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: It is reported that Mr. Johnson aims to withhold payment of the £39 billion Brexit bill until there is agreement of a trade agreement with the UK.

    This will create a rift with the EU and a likely international litigation process, since the European leaders have been absolutely clear that the divorce bill must be legaly settled before any discussion of a future relationship will take place. 

    So even if a deal could be reached on the backstop issue, the divorce bill will probably create a rift.

    Sputnik: In your opinion, which is more important for the UK - to be focused on the US or Europe?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: I think the UK can focus both on the US and Europe at the same time.

    The EU are in talks for a trade agreement and a US-UK agreement could look very much alike the EU one, since the British consumers share the same sensitivities as the rest of the EU regarding food safety and quality of agricultural products.

    Sputnik: UK relations with which country have the most stable outlook?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: Probably Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Basically for cultural reasons, but for industrial and entrepreneurial affiliation too.

    In case the Irish backstop is solved in a smooth way, Ireland can become a great partner for the UK because of proximity and EU-membership.

    Sputnik: Both candidates have stated that the Iran deal is not dead and that the UK is looking to find ways of preserving it. In your view, how might this affect the UK’s planned economic ties with the US in light of Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA?

    Yannis Koutsomitis: The UK, as well as France and Germany, is committed to the JCPOA agreement but if Iran would continue to breach uranium enrichment levels because of US sanctions, then pressure will put on the UK to distance itself from the agreement and align itself with the US on the sanctions issue.

    So, the UK is most likely out the E3 signatories to back off from JCPOA, especially if Boris Johnson becomes the prime minister.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Yannis Koutsomitis and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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