But the move to access international markets worth almost £50trillion is a slap in the face for the EU – which wanted talks to be solely focused on Brussels. With Chancellor Sajid Javid confirming the UK will not agree to demands that Britain aligns with EU regulations, the prospect of a trade deal with the US will put pressure on Brussels to compromise. The major reshaping of British foreign policy also includes efforts to boost trade with Africa.
And there will be a new focus on tackling persecution of Christians abroad with a reshaped British sanctions regime, independent of the European Union.
On the post Brexit trade talks, a Downing Street source said: “Downing Street will begin trade deal talks with the USA at the same time as negotiations get underway with the EU.
“The Prime Minister has tasked trade negotiators at the Department for International Trade to start discussions with countries including Japan, New Zealand and Australia, alongside the USA.”
It is also understood the Prime Minister will be making a set-piece speech in early February to set out his plans for life after Brexit in the UK.
He will focus on our future trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.
Tomorrow, Mr Johnson will host the first major UK In Africa Investment Summit, intended to showcase and commit to opportunities in what is one of the most important regions for investment after Brexit.
Britain has previously declared it wants to become the G7’s top investor in the continent, set to make up a quarter of the world’s consumers by 2050 and where trade is currently worth £36billion to the UK economy.
That push has so far led to a £2billion boost since 2016, and will include developments in security, climate change, sustainability and gender equality as part of Britain’s new post Brexit “freedom agenda”.
Last night, Britain’s trade commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith, said: “Africa is a significant part of our Global Britain ambitions. We want to boost exports to 35 per cent of GDP and Africa has the eight fastest growing economies in the world.”
Former cabinet minister Sir John Redwood, who was head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit, welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to carry out trade talks with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand at the same time as the EU.
He said: “Britain can trade perfectly well on world trade rules, as it does at the moment with the US, but it is better if we can get trade deals.
“America, Australia and New Zealand are particularly keen to do trade deals with us and there is a ready-made deal we could have with Japan.”
However, Sir John, MP for Wokingham, is also pressing the Government to look at boosting growth and following Donald Trump’s model, which has led to economic growth being one per cent higher each year than the EU. In a debate he has called for Tuesday, he will push for a series of tax cuts around business rates, VAT and stamp duty.
He said: “More growth means more jobs and more money in people’s pockets and better funded public services.
“The EU’s single market rules held us back. We could not even cut VAT on green products.”
In a further development, the Government is expected to use its new freedom from the European Union to be more proactive in tackling rogue regimes along with individuals and groups behind persecution, particularly of Christians.
Rehman Chishti, the Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, told an Open Doors event in Parliament: “Once we leave the EU, a global human rights sanctions regime will allow the UK to impose sanctions on those who abuse or violate human rights globally, which could include those who commit serious human rights abuses or violations against religious minorities.”
Britain’s head of mission at the United Nations has been asked to “explore all the options” to secure a UN Security Council resolution to protect Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
The Government has also accepted all 22 recommendations from the Bishop of Truro’s report for the Foreign Office on persecuted Christians.
It is believed former security minister, Sir John Hayes, is being lined up to take over from Dominic Grieve as the chairman of the powerful Intelligence and Security Committee.
The committee is due to publish the report into Russian interference in the British democratic process.
●Additional reporting by Marco Giannangeli and David Williamson.