Boris Johnson moves to allay Joe Biden’s Brexit fears in first phone call with president-elect


oris Johnson has spoken to Joe Biden to congratulate the US president-elect in their first call since his election victory over Donald Trump.

The Prime Minister and the Democrat spoke for 25 minutes today.

It came amid suggestions, dismissed by ministers and Downing Street, that Mr Johnson might not share as close relationship with Mr Biden as he did Mr Trump, partly due to controversies surrounding Brexit.

No 10 said that during the wide-ranging call Mr Johnson “warmly congratulated” Mr Biden on his victory. Mr Trump continues to contest the win with baseless allegations of fraud.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister added: “I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities – from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.”

Downing Street said the Prime Minister discussed trade with Mr Biden, as he seeks to negotiate a post-Brexit deal with Washington.

The pair were also said to have discussed Nato, which Mr Trump routinely railed against during his single term as president, which continues into January.


U.S. President-elect Biden speaks after meeting with transition coronavirus advisory board in Wilmington, Delaware


A No 10 spokesman said the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was another topic of discussion.

“They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead, in areas such as trade and security – including through Nato,” the No 10 spokesperson added.

“The Prime Minister and President-elect also looked forward to working closely together on their shared priorities, from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy, and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Prime Minister was said to have sent his congratulations to Kamala Harris, who made history in becoming the first woman of colour to be elected vice-president.

Unlike Mr Trump, Mr Biden is not a natural ally of Brexit.

He has warned that a trade deal with the US is “contingent” on there being no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland amid unease over Mr Johnson’s controversial Brexit legislation.

The Democrat also warned that the peace process must not “become a casualty of Brexit” in a warning over the UK Internal Market Bill.

The No 10 source said: “They talked about the importance of implementing Brexit in such a way that upholds the Good Friday Agreement, and the PM assured the president-elect that would be the case.”

Lord Judge says UK Internal Market Bill ‘riddled with powers being given’ away

In a statement, a spokesperson for the president-elect said Mr Biden “offered his thanks to Prime Minister Johnson for his congratulations and expressed his desire to strengthen the special relationship and re-double cooperation on issues of mutual concern”.

They added that the president-elect “especially looks forward to working closely together on global challenges”, and that Mr Biden “reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland”.

Mr Johnson is reported to have offended Mr Biden when referring to Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan” heritage in an article for the Sun in 2016. He served as his vice-president while Mr Obama was in office. 

Writing about the decision of the Obama administration to remove a bust of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill from the Oval Office,  in 2016, Mr Johnson said: “Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”

After Mr Johnson announced his call, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he too held a “warm and engaging call” with Mr Biden, who proudly speaks of his Irish heritage.

Mr Martin said that the president-elect “underlined his commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement.

German chancellor Angela Merkel also secured a call from Mr Biden on Tuesday.


Undated screengrab from the official Twitter page of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of his original tweet (top) congratulating Joe Biden on his US election victory and an image optimised using Photoshop (below) showing underlying text. 

/ PA )

The order of Mr Biden’s calls was not clear.

Downing Street said a “technical error” meant parts of an alternative congratulatory statement for the Republican were overlaid on the final graphic.


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