WASHINGTON -- Britain hasn't even divorced the European Union yet, and already a new suitor has come calling: the United States.
During a visit this week to the United Kingdom, Vice President Mike Pence brought word from his boss, President Donald Trump: The United States is eager to reach a new trade pact -- one that won't be possible until Britain completes Brexit and moves out of the 28-country EU trading bloc.
"Our message is clear: The minute the U.K. is out, America is in," Vice President Mike Pence said in a visit with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street on Thursday.
Not so fast.
Building a new U.S.-U.K. trading relationship atop the wreckage of Brexit won't be easy.
British officials are already vowing to resist an agreement that is lopsided in favor of the more powerful United States, creating potential for disputes over matters such as chlorinated chicken and the divisive Scottish dish haggis.
"I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators," Johnson told Pence. "So, we're going to work very hard to make sure that that free trade deal is one that works for all sides."
As a member of the EU, Britain outsourced its trade policy to the bloc's bureaucrats in Brussels. Before it can pursue an independent course and reach a brand-new trade pact with Washington, London will have to negotiate a divorce with the EU- or crash out of the bloc without a deal and risk damaging its own economy.