Donald Trump hailed Boris Johnson as the “right man for the job” of delivering Brexit and promised a “very big trade deal” as the two leaders held their first meeting.
The US President said he had long held his views on Mr Johnson’s suitability for being British Prime Minister, which “didn’t make your predecessor very happy”.
The two leaders were meeting at the G7 summit to talk about the possibility of a UK-US trade deal once Britain has left the European Union.
The president said: “We’re going to do a very big trade deal, bigger than we’ve ever had with the UK and now at some point they won’t have the obstacle, they won’t have the anchor around their ankle, because that’s what they have.”
However, Mr Johnson has warned that a trade deal with the US will not be “plain sailing” and has raised a series of areas where he wants concessions from Washington.
He told Mr Trump: “Talking of the anchor, Donald, what we want is for our ships to take freight, say, from New York to Boston, which for the moment they’re not able to do.”
The president said he wanted a deal done “quickly” because in the past he had been “stymied” under Theresa May and while the UK was still negotiating Brexit.
He added: “This is a different person and this is a person that’s going to be a great Prime Minister, in my opinion.”
Mr Johnson told him: “I know that there will be some tough talks ahead because at the moment I don’t think we sell a single joint of British lamb in the United States; we don’t sell any beef…. And there are huge opportunities for the UK to penetrate the American market in ways we currently don’t.”
Asked if he had made clear his views on protecting the NHS and animal welfare standards in trade talks with Mr Trump, the Prime Minister told the PA news agency: “There is complete unanimity on that point.”
The UK Prime Minister also warned Mr Trump against escalating his trade war with China.
“We are in favour of trade peace on the whole,” he said as the two leaders and their teams had a working breakfast at the Hotel du Palais.
- Press Association
US President Donald Trump heaped praise on Boris Johnson as they held their first formal meeting, writes David Young.
“Do you know who this is, does everybody know?” the president asked the press – a mixture of US and British journalists – “he’s going to be a fantastic prime minister, I can tell you”.
Before talks over a working breakfast of scrambled eggs and veal sausages at the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, Mr Trump was keen to highlight the difference in his relationship with Mr Johnson compared with Theresa May.
He said Mr Johnson was the “right man for the job” of handling Brexit, adding: “I’ve been saying that for a long time. It didn’t make your predecessor very happy.”
The famous hotel in Biarritz was where Henry Herbert Asquith became prime minister, appointed in 1908 by the holidaying Edward VII, who was a regular visitor to the resort town on the French Atlantic coast.
More than a century later, Mr Johnson was told he would be a “great” prime minister by the US President in the same venue.
Despite the friendly words, tough issues remain between the two leaders at the G7 summit.
Mr Johnson indicated some of the problems with a potential trade deal – highlighting the need to improve market access for British freight vessels and farmers in the US.
He also sounded a “sheeplike note” in defence of free trade as Mr Trump mulled over his ongoing dispute with China.
“We’re in favour of trade peace on the whole,” Mr Johnson said.
Their meeting on Sunday morning came after the pair were photographed chatting in the margins of the summit on Saturday night.
The Prime Minister prepared for his meeting with Mr Trump by taking a bracing dip in the Atlantic, swimming out to a rocky outcrop near the hotel – with French security watching on.