Boris Johnson hails Joe Biden as ‘breath of fresh air’

US president didn’t tell me to ‘crack on’ with resolving Northern Ireland trade row, says PM

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 10 June 2021 18:30
Johnson calls talks with Biden ‘breath of fresh air’ and comments on NI trade

Boris Johnson has hailed Joe Biden as a “breath of fresh air” after the pair met for the first time ahead of tomorrow’s G7 summit in Cornwall.

The prime minister played down differences with Biden over Northern Ireland, insisting that the US president did not use the meeting to urge him to “crack on” with resolving the “sausage war” row with Brussels.

Mr Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has left no doubt that he wants Mr Johnson to avoid anything which could risk peace on the island, with reports that he ordered US diplomats to warn Brexit minister Lord Frost against “inflaming” the situation.

After talks lasting more than an hour in Carbis Bay, during which they signed a new Atlantic Charter enshrining US/UK friendship, Mr Johnson was keen to stress the closeness of the partnership between the two countries.

In brief comments to broadcasters, he did not mention Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump and his famously belligerent approach to allies at international summits.

But there was little doubt he had the change in White House leadership in mind when he said: “It’s wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and to Joe Biden because there’s so much that they want to do together with us - from security and NATO to climate change.

“It’s fantastic, it’s a breath of fresh air. There’s a lot of things they want to do together.”

Asked if Mr Biden had put pressure on him to “crack on” with resolving the situation in Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson replied: “No he didn’t. But what I can say is that the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do, and that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going.

“That’s absolutely common ground and I’m optimistic that we can do that.”

The PM added: “I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that the relationship between the UK and the US is open.

“The relationship between North America and Europe, which really is incarnated in that Atlantic Charter of 1941 which was renewed today by me and President Biden, is of  massive, massive strategic importance for prosperity, the security of the world, for all the things we believe in together - democracy, human rights, the rule of law.

“And the US and the UK stick up for those two things together, so it’s incredibly important that we should affirm that.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments