QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State, thank you for doing this interview with LBC. You’re with us on the —
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you.
QUESTION: Thank you. You’re with us on the day before Brexit. How will the UK-U.S. relationship change after Brexit?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s a great relationship, but I wanted to be here on this very special day. Within a handful of hours, the United Kingdom will have executed something they’ve been working on for an awfully long time: to leave the EU as the people have directed them to do. We’re pleased that the United Kingdom has been able to accomplish what the British people wanted.
Our relationship’s been great. It’s been great for a long time. I believe now we’ll be able to do even more, whether that’s on security or on economic matters, diplomatic things that we’ll work on across the world. We now have a United Kingdom that is free from some of the constraints that was upon them as a result of being a member in the EU, and I am very confident that the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to build out what has been a historic relationship and one that has delivered good outcomes for people of both of our countries.
QUESTION: I interviewed a foreign diplomat recently who said, “Look, you’re the fifth largest economy in the world. Why aren’t you a bit more self-confident?” Do you think that there is this sort of lack of confidence in Britain at the moment?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think every nation has times in its life where it’s worried about something, something that’s going on internally to their nation or something that they see as a threat externally. The United Kingdom should recognize that it is a great nation capable of amazing things, and so they should have enormous confidence.
It’s the same thing I tell American people when I speak to them. I’m America’s Secretary of State, but I often speak to audiences inside of the United States. We should have the confidence to know that we are a force for good wherever it is we go in the world. It’s not that we don’t make mistakes. We get things wrong. But we are there for a noble mission, for a great purpose, and that we have the power, the innovation, the capability to deliver good things not only for the American people, but to help our friends like the United Kingdom and to decrease risk from those who want to do us harm.
QUESTION: How quickly can a trade deal be done? Because there are some people who say, well, there’s no reason it couldn’t be done in a year or 15 months, 18 months, but it’s going to be a very, very complicated deal, isn’t it? What are the main barriers to that deal, in your view?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Sure, it’ll be complicated and there’ll be places it’ll be very contentious. Both negotiating teams will want to preserve things for their own country. That’s how negotiations work. That shouldn’t trouble any of us when there are hard stops, when there are difficult points along the way.
Look, we’re committed to working on this as quickly as we can. I don’t want to put a timeline on it. It’ll take a little bit, but I hope by the end of this year or the late summer or early fall, we have a substantial piece of progress and we can begin to close out the most difficult issues. It would be a great thing. Our team is committed to it. I know the United Kingdom team is getting ready to go. It’s why I wanted to be here today to be the starting gun not only on the trade negotiations, but on all of the other files that our two countries work on together.
QUESTION: And the National Health Service, that was a big issue in our general election campaign where the opposition said, well, Donald Trump wants to buy the NHS.
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) Just so you know, we found that odd in the United States, such a suggestion.
QUESTION: So you can categorically say that you’re not interested in the NHS?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I can categorically say we’re not interested in it.
QUESTION: And what about another issue —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Just as President Trump did when he was here a few months back.
QUESTION: People need to hear it every few months at least, it seems.
The other issue which people have got very obsessed about here is chlorinated chicken, and I can never quite understand why, because if we all go to America, I’m sure we all eat it and we enjoy it. Is it the agricultural sector that’s going to be possibly the biggest barrier here?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I think there’ll be real contentious issues around agriculture. Each of the trade deals that we’ve completed – we just signed the USMCA for three countries there in North America. We’ve completed a phase one trade deal with the Chinese. These ag issues have deep political – we have constituents in places that matter an awful lot. We have people we want to make sure and protect, and markets that have come to be developed in a protectionist sense. I’m sure the ag issues will be difficult.
Our ask will be as it’s been in the other negotiations, we need to be open and honest about competitiveness. We need to make sure we don’t use food safety as a ruse to try and protect a particular industry. And then we need to have the hard conversations about the places we have opportunities to give and take, and then deliver on outcomes that benefit the agricultural sector, and most importantly, consumers who are going to be the net beneficiaries of these really good deals.
QUESTION: Extradition is always a contentious area between any country, and the U.S. and UK have had their issues over the years with Gary McKinnon, where Britain didn’t extradite him, and now, of course, we’ve got the Anne Sacoolas case. How aware are you of the depth of public opinion – not actually just in Britain, but polls in America show that most Americans think that she should be extradited back here to face British justice?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I just want to re-emphasize what a tragic event this is. The loss of life as a result of this automobile accident is absolutely tragic. I can’t imagine to know the pain of the family. We have enormous sympathy for them. The President had a chance to meet with that family. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that we address all of the things that might have contributed to this – safety training, all of the things that can reduce the risk that something like this could ever happen again.
QUESTION: But she won’t be coming back here?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re having a conversation about a lot of things. We’re going to do everything we can to get this right and to make this as right as anybody can make it when there was a loss of life. We can never put it all the way back, sadly, but we’ll do everything we can to put this in the best possible place.
QUESTION: Another bone of contention between our two countries, obviously, Huawei. You’ve been talking about that today. On a scale of one to ten, how disappointed were you with the decision that was announced on Tuesday?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s a great question, one I’m not going to answer.
QUESTION: I knew you wouldn’t. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, we’ve said we were disappointed. We view the intrusion of the Chinese Communist Party into information technology systems as a very grave risk – a national security risk as well as a core privacy risk. If your health records are on a system that belongs and is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, that’s not something you’d probably choose in the first instance. And so we are looking forward to working with our United K partners on the security elements of this and then working alongside them to develop what – we think about this as trusted networks. It’s not about Huawei. It’s about ensuring that the information that we put our citizens’ data on is secure and safe.
QUESTION: But you have presumably been lobbying Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab on this during your trip here.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we had hoped that they would do – follow our lead and ban Huawei products from their marketplace. That’s right.
QUESTION: But isn’t the problem here now that Britain has given cover to Germany and Canada to do the same thing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Just as with the United Kingdom, I hope they’ll make their own sovereign decision. They’ll make the choices they think are in the best interests of their own people. Our view of the technology and of the data is that putting this Chinese technology inside of these systems is something that is very difficult to mitigate. The United Kingdom came to a slightly different conclusion.
Now we have a responsibility to do two things: one, to continue to talk to them about the risks as we see them so they can continue to develop their plans and policies; and then we have an obligation to protect American information that might travel across these systems as well.
QUESTION: Could it affect the Five Eyes arrangements? Would you withhold intelligence from Britain and maybe other countries that go down this road?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We will certainly never put American information in a place that we don’t deem is safe.
QUESTION: And on the Middle East peace plan that was announced this week, isn’t it dead on arrival? I mean, it’s so slanted towards Israel the Palestinians could never accept it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: This is the best offer the Palestinians have had in all of their history. It’s a detailed map. It’s a map that the Israelis have now signed off on. They’ve never seen such a thing. This is an 80-page comprehensive plan. The Palestinians are offered a state if they do the simple things of deny Hamas the capacity to commit terror, cease paying martyrs, build out a security apparatus inside of their own place that keeps their own people safe as well as people from the region, $50 billion, a million jobs.
This is an enormous opportunity, and the Palestinian people, I believe, will come to see that. Its leadership may be stuck in the past. Its leadership may call for days of rage. But the Palestinian people are going to come to understand that this is an offer of a lifetime, of a generation. They should engage in negotiations based on this offer; and when they do, I am confident they will find that the lives of the Palestinian people will be far better off by agreeing to negotiate based on this vision for peace than they will be if they simply reject it.
QUESTION: Secretary of State, thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much for having me on the show. Thank you, sir.