The UK is “first in line” for a trade deal with the US, President Trump’s national security adviser has said.
President’s Bush’s decision to appoint Mr Bolton – an outspoken critic of international institutions – as US ambassador to the United Nations in 2005 dismayed diplomats.
More recently he has also taken a belligerent stance on North Korea and Iran, opposing the Iran nuclear deal and advocating the use of military force against both countries.
His appointment as President Trump’s national security adviser in March 2018 was a somewhat unusual choice given President Trump’s regularly espoused non-interventionism, although the pair share similar views on Iran.
The role means he is a key adviser to the president on national security and foreign policy issues and acts as a conduit for policy proposals coming from various government departments, including defence and state.
Mr Bolton also criticised the European Union and accused them of treating voters like “peasants”.
“The fashion in the European Union when the people vote the wrong way from the way that the elites want to go is to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right,” he said.
He made it clear that the US government “fully understands” that Brexit is the UK’s first priority, and said issues like Iran, China, and the involvement of the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei in building the UK’s 5G mobile infrastructure could be put off until after the UK leaves the EU.
“We just ask that, as issues come up, we resolve them individually and we reserve the time to have a larger conversation on some of these important issues at a moment that is really right for the new government. We just felt we owe them that,” he said.
Mr Bolton also referenced Mr Johnson’s willingness to participate in Operation Sentinel, which aims to beef up the military presence in the Gulf in the face of tensions between the West and Iran, saying he was “pleased” as this “reflects a change from the prior government”.
Former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw described Mr Bolton as “dangerously bellicose”, as well as opposed to the Iran nuclear deal and international organisations like the United Nations.
In return for a trade deal, Mr Straw suggested the UK would have to agree to some US demands, for example allowing imports of US chlorine-washed chicken.
“This is a highly transactional administration… you don’t get something for nothing,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Lewis Lukens, a former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in London and former acting US ambassador, said Mr Bolton was aligned to President Trump’s “America first agenda” and would be making “strong demands” on the UK to back the US position on issues like Huawei, China and Iran.
For example, he said Mr Bolton would want a “clear indication” from the UK it would leave the Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump withdrew the US from in May 2018.
Mr Johnson is expected to have his first face-to-face meeting as prime minister with Mr Trump later this month at the G7 summit in France.