Florida governor Ron DeSantis to visit Britain as part of international trade mission

Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor who is likely to challenge Donald Trump for the party’s presidential nomination, will visit the UK as part of an international trade mission that will also take in Japan, South Korea and Israel.

Although billed as opportunity to build on economic relationships that Florida has with each country, it would be surprising if the 44-year-old didn’t use the opportunity to burnish his leadership credentials ahead of a bruising showdown with Mr Trump.

Mr DeSantis will be joined by his wife Casey DeSantis, and Florida’s secretary of state Cord Byrd and secretary of commerce Laura DiBella.

“Florida has the 15th largest economy in the world, and that is because our state has worked to create partnerships with other countries to create jobs and boost the economy,” Mr DeSantis said.

“This trade mission will give us the opportunity to strengthen economic relationships and continue to demonstrate Florida’s position as an economic leader.

While in the United Kingdom, which will be the last stage of the four-country trip that begins on Saturday in Japan, Mr DeSantis will meet with business executives from companies with investments in Florida and the foreign secretary, James Cleverly.

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The UK is one of Florida’s most significant economic partners and it ranks among the top American states for British businesses and tourists. UK companies employ 67,000 people in Florida, making the UK the top foreign investor in the state.

Florida also has a strong tourism relationship with the UK: last year, more than 1.1 million people visited from the UK, with Britons the second largest group of international visitors to the state.

Having previously been a frontrunner in the race to challenge Mr Biden, Gov DeSantis has fallen behind former president Trump in recent weeks as Republican voters have flocked to back the 76-year-old during his recent well-publicised legal problems.