Boris Johnson Presses Trump on Diplomat Crash Case
Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister, left, arrives for a meeting ahead of David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, inside number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Boris Johnson Presses Trump on Diplomat Crash Case


(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, eager to cultivate closer relations with President Donald Trump as he pursues Brexit, nevertheless used a phone call between the two leaders to raise the thorny issues of tariffs and the case of an American diplomat’s wife who left the U.K. following a fatal accident.

In the call on Wednesday, Johnson pressed Trump not to impose tariffs on a number of products, including Scotch, after the U.S. announced them in retaliation for Europe’s illegal government aid to Airbus SE.

He also mentioned the case of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who died following a crash near a U.S. airbase involving an American woman with diplomatic immunity who has since left the country. The U.S. Embassy issued a statement saying immunity is “rarely waived.”

“The prime minister urged the president to reconsider the U.S. position so the individual involved can return to the U.K., cooperate with police and allow Harry’s family to receive justice,” Johnson’s office said in an emailed statement about the call. “The president said he was fully aware of the case and deeply saddened by what has happened, and he expressed his condolences to Harry’s parents. The leaders agreed to work together to find a way forward as soon as possible.”

The nature of the call illustrates the balance the British leader is trying to strike. As the the U.K. prepares to leave the European Union, Johnson is eager to burnish ties -- both diplomatic and trade -- with the world’s largest economy.

But at the same time, with a possible general election looming, he’s trying to avoid being seen as being in the pocket of the U.S. -- an image opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn is keen to propagate.

By broaching the subject of Dunn with Trump, Johnson was following through on a pledge made earlier in the week to raise it “personally with the White House.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also issued a statement on the case, saying: “We will use every avenue and opportunity open to us to try to right the wrong and allow the justice system to follow its natural course.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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