United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed suggestions that he would back President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE’s Middle East policy in the hopes of winning a new trade deal with Washington.
Johnson was responding to a suggestion from Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament Wednesday that he would be “unable to stand up to President Trump” so he could achieve a trade agreement with the U.S., a goal Corbyn said “prioritizes everything else that he ought to be considering.”
“This is absolute fiction,” Johnson responded on the Parliament floor.
“The U.K. will continue to work for de-escalation in the region,” he added. “He should be in absolutely no doubt ... that we are determined to guarantee, with everything that we can, the safety and security of the people of Iraq.”
The back-and-forth came amid escalating tensions in the Middle East between Washington and Tehran over a U.S. strike last week that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general who was in charge of the country’s international network of proxy forces.
The strike raised the prospect of a sharp escalation in the region, with Iran responding early Wednesday morning local time with ballistic missile launches against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. forces.
“We of course condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition forces. Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but instead must pursue urgent de-escalation,” Johnson said. “We are doing everything we can, of course, to protect U.K. interests in the region.”
Johnson and President Trump, who are believed to have a close relationship, are in the process of hammering out a trade deal for once the U.K. leaves the European Union, with the president saying in August the two countries would be able to clinch an agreement “pretty quickly.”
“We're having very good trade talks between the U.K. and ourselves. We're going to do a very big trade deal — bigger than we've ever had with the U.K.,” Trump told reporters.