McCarthy echoed that message during brief remarks with Sunak at the top of their meeting.
“Our two nations have such long history and such [a] great combination of not just our beliefs and our freedoms, but our economics, and I want to find every way we can to continue to build on all of this,” the speaker said. “When our bond is stronger the world is safer, and democracy grows further.”
The prime minister has distinguished his leadership from his recent predecessors by taking a more open view of international trade, in post-Brexit talks.
Sunak has admitted that an overarching trade deal with Washington might not be in the cards during the trip, saying on the plane to the U.S. capital that “for a while now, that has not been a priority for either the U.S. or U.K.”
But London now hopes for a critical minerals agreement, which would allow electric batteries in the U.K. to qualify for certain tax breaks under the Inflation Reduction Act. It also would like a digital trade agreement with the United States.
It’s part of a broader strategy, as Britain aims to more closely tie itself to the U.S. amid multiple national security crises including the Russian invasion into Ukraine and the rising technological might of China.
Sunak has framed the trip to D.C. as a chance to explore a “close and candid relationship” with President Joe Biden, and touted his country’s close ties with Washington in a statement before the visit.
In remarks to reporters, McCarthy said Sunak governs a “great ally in the U.K.”
“There’s ways that we could work to trade to make our economy stronger as well,” McCarthy said. “And, [I’m] always looking forward to work” with the U.K.
After gathering with the speaker, Sunak met with a bipartisan group of a dozen senators in a small room off the Senate floor. He did not respond to a shouted question about his message to Congress on the future of aid to Ukraine.
Senators who attended the meeting were Schumer, McConnell, Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
“Thank you for being here. It’s a great alliance we have,” Schumer said, shaking hands with Sunak after the prime minister thanked the lawmakers for having him.
On Thursday, Sunak is expected to meet with Biden and discuss Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, the rising influence of China and AI regulation.
Nancy Vu and Doug Palmer contributed to this report.
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