US election: Boris Johnson ‘sucked up’ to Trump and got nothing in return, says Emily Thornberry

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Sunday 08 November 2020 16:51
Emily Thornberry says government 'sucked up' to Trump and got nothing in return

Boris Johnson’s government “sucked up” to Donald Trump and got nothing in return, shadow cabinet minister Emily Thornberry has said.

Ms Thornberry said that the prime minister’s “mutually congratulatory” relationship with the outgoing president will make it difficult for him to forge close ties with his successor Joe Biden.

And she criticised Mr Johnson for refusing to speak out and say that all votes should be counted in the US election when Trump was trying to shut down counts.

The shadow international trade secretary pointed to the failure to do a UK/US trade deal, the imposition of punitive US tariffs on British goods and the refusal to extradite the wife of a CIA operative to face trial over the death of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn as signs that Mr Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May had got little in return for their efforts to get close to Trump

Ms Thornberry told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The government had a choice when he was elected.

“They … have spent their time holding his hand and sucking up to him and hoping to get something, some crumbs from the table and how has that worked? We've got nothing from that.

“They're still putting tariffs on whisky because of a long-standing dispute on aircraft, we're supposed to be doing a trade deal and yet we can't even get these punitive tariffs off “We can't even get the killer of poor Harry Dunn back to Britain in order to face justice.

“The prime Minister has gone personally to his good friend Donald Trump and asked for these things and got nothing.

“They've never criticised, they have never said that they disagreed with him. Even during the election itself, we’ve heard them being mealy-mouthed and not standing up to him.”

Ms Thornberry said she accepted that during the election campaign Mr Johnson was unable to pick sides between Trump and Biden, but said that once polling was completed he should have stood up for democracy as other International leaders did.

“I understand during the election, it would be wrong for foreign powers to intervene, but once the election has finished and once the votes are being counted, and you have the president of the United States saying that that the vote is not legitimate, I think our prime minister should have stood up - along with the German foreign minister, along with the Irish prime minister and all kinds of international figures - and said ‘This is not the behaviour that we expect’.”

She added: “Of course there are some policy differences between Britain in the United States and thankfully now we are going to have a president who will be more in line with our policies and with what we think is the right way of behaving.

“But there has been a general approach, a populist approach, from Boris Johnson, which I think he has in common with Donald Trump and that is why they had they had such a close friendship.

“That's why there have been so mutually congratulatory. And it will be very difficult, I think - not impossible but very difficult - to move from that to being close to Joe Biden.”

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