Minister admits Boris Johnson is yet to call Joe Biden
- Credit: PA
Boris Johnson has yet to get in touch with US president-elect Joe Biden after laying out the case for a close UK alliance with the new administration.
“The United States is our closest and most important ally, and that has been the case president after president, prime minister after prime minister – it won’t change,” the prime minister told broadcasters on Sunday.
“I look forward very much to working with President Biden and his team on a lot of crucial stuff for us in the weeks and months ahead: tackling climate change, trade, international security, many, many other issues.”
It comes after foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he expected the prime minister to phone Biden “shortly”.
It comes after reports that Johnson is “war-gaming” his first conversation with the next incumbent of the Oval Office as he prepares to offer to build a coalition with the US to tackle climate change and join up on their shared mantra to “build back better” after coronavirus.
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Johnson, according to The Sunday Times, is said to have joked with Downing Street officials that Mr Biden was “one of the few world leaders I haven’t insulted”.
There could be work to do for Number 10 to prepare the relationship, however, after an aide of former president Barack Obama labelled the prime minister a “shapeshifting creep” following Johnson’s congratulatory tweet on Saturday.
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Tommy Vietor, referencing Johnson previously suggesting Obama’s “part-Kenyan heritage” was behind his “ancestral dislike of the British empire”, said: “We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump.”
Johnson has not met Biden – a point commentators suggested ex-prime minister Theresa May was alluding to when she tweeted a photograph of her and the long-serving politician – and in December 2019, the election victor labelled the prime minister a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump.
Labour’s shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry predicted it would be “very difficult” for the Conservative Party leader to be “close to Joe Biden” after wooing the Trump administration since he came to power.
But Johnson said there was “far more that unites” the UK and the US than divides when asked about the Democratic candidate’s negative comments about him.
“I think there is far more that unites the government of this country and governments in Washington at any time and any stage than divides us,” he said.
“We have common values, we have common interests, we have common global perspective.”
Taking questions on whether Biden’s win would put the chances of a US-UK trade deal at risk, the Prime Minister said he knew Washington had “tough negotiators” and that he “never believed this was going to be something that was going to be a complete pushover under any US administration”.
“I think there is a good chance we’ll do something,” he added.
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