19/04/2017 20:50 BST | Updated 20/04/2017 00:08 BST

Paul Ryan Praises 'Bold Leadership' Of Theresa May And Proposes US-UK Free Trade Deal

Republican House Speaker says US 'ready' to strike trade deal with UK.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Paul Ryan, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has praised Theresa May’s “bold leadership” ahead of the snap general election.

The senior Republican congressman told with an audience in central-London on Wednesday evening that he would work to strike a free trade deal between the UK and US following Brexit.

He was speaking shortly after MPs voted to give the May the authority to bring forward the scheduled 2020 election to this year.

“We just had a pretty interesting election. And I guess well, you felt like you were being left out,” Ryan told the Policy Exchange think-tank.

“The one thought that came to mind when I watched what transpired, was that this is a time for bold leadership and Theresa May is certainly setting the standard.”

And he joked May had told him she was planning a surprise election “a couple of weeks ago”.

Speaking about the June 8 election, Ryan said whoever won had a duty “to deliver” for voters. “Same goes for Tories, same goes for Labour,” he said.

Ryan did not mention Jeremy Corbyn by name. However he said “we have to re-describe why socialism doesn’t work these days” - leaving little doubt as to who he hoped would win.

PA Wire/PA Images
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and US President Donald Trump after a "Friends of Ireland" lunch at the Capitol Building in Washington, USA.

In his speech in London, Ryan said an exit deal between the UK and the EU was “in all of our best interests” and told the British audience the US was “going to stand with you through all of this”.

He said: “The US stands ready to forge a new trade agreement with Great Britain as soon as possible.”

The Speaker said both Democrats and Republicans in Congress were “committed to working with President Trump and your government to achieve a free trade agreement between the United States and Great Britain”.

Donald Trump caused concern in European capitals during his campaign by suggesting Nato was obsolete - a view he has since attempted to reverse.

Ryan told the meeting in London: “We need a strong Nato alliance and we need that now more than never.

“Nato is essential. It has been and it remains critical to the safety and security of the United States, Great Britain and of the world and it must be strengthened.”

The Congressman, speaking in Westminster, also addressed last month’s terror attack at parliament. 

“The evil we saw in Westminster the epicenter of European democracy rattled us to our core as well, we shared your pain and we mourned your victims,” he said.

Earlier today MPs voted 522 to 13 in favour of allowing May to call a snap election.

In a phone call with prime minister last night, President Donald Trump “wished the British people the best of luck” in the “special election” due to be held on June 8.

May addressed Congressional Republicans at gathering in Philadelphia in January. In her speech she said she was speaking to them not only as British prime minister but as “a fellow Conservative” who shared the “agenda” of their party.

The prime minister, who also met President Trump on the trip, was the first foreign leader to address the annual Republican gathering.