UK Parliament Member Says Trade With US Is Critical For Both Nations
Trade between the United States and the United Kingdom is critically important for both countries as the U.K. leaves the European Union, said a key trade official Thursday during a speech at Texas A&M University.
The Rt. Hon. Conor Burns, the U.K. Minister of State for International Trade, spoke Thursday at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. His appearance is believed to be the first of any U.K. minister in America since the post-Brexit agreement in which the U.K. left the European Union last week.
Burns said that Texas is also needed as an important trade partner for the U.K., noting that if it were a country, “Texas would be the 10th largest economy in the world right now.
“Texas has energy, high-tech companies, some of the top business and insurance companies, and we need to make sure we have you as a partner as we enter this post-Brexit era,” he said.
Burns is part of the British Conservative Party. Besides trade, he also has a strong interest in education and previously served as a private parliamentary secretary in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is also a former public relations executive who was elected as a member of Parliament for Bournemouth West in the 2010 general election.
“This is an important moment in my country’s history,” Burns said of Brexit. “Last week, we formally ended our 45-year membership in the European Union. We are doing what the U.S. did a few centuries ago – moving into a new era of independence. It is a new form of freedom for us. Margaret Thatcher (former British prime minister) always told us, ‘When you go to America, you can literally smell the freedom.’”
Burns said that trade agreements with the U.S. have always benefitted both countries, noting that last year, the “UK did more than 220 billion pounds worth of trade with your country. Winston Churchill once said that as long as America and the U.K. work together, our two great nations should fear no one.
“We are both alike in many ways. We value business, prosperity and education. I am proud to say, we are home to four of the top 10 universities in the world. The European Union was formed to ensure prosperity, but it has not done so well recently, such as in Spain and Greece. The EU has to ask itself, ‘How could we have just lost our second-largest contributor?”
Burns said that he has always heard of Texas A&M from others, and his first association with the school came in 2007 when he met former President George H.W. Bush when he was speaking in England.
“I met him just as he was getting ready to go fishing in a nearby river,” Burns recalled. “I admired him because he was an incredible public servant, and he was constantly giving to others.”