Joe Biden will have ‘no greater ally’ than United Kingdom

Britain is pursuing trade deals around the world after leaving the EU in January

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab speaks at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday during a trip to the US. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab speaks at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday during a trip to the US. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP

 

The United States is Britain’s closest and most important ally, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, expressing confidence he could achieve much on everything from trade to climate change with president-elect Joe Biden.

Mr Johnson, who was once fondly dubbed “Britain Trump” by president Donald Trump, congratulated Mr Biden on his victory on Saturday, saying he looked forward to “working closely together on our shared priorities”.

But some say Mr Johnson might struggle to forge a close bond with Mr Biden, who has in the past cast doubt over Brexit and has never met the prime minister.

Mr Johnson, his foreign minister Dominic Raab and other members of the Conservatives were keen to underline how much overlap there now was between the incoming US administration and that of the British government on shared interests.

“The United States is our closest and most important ally. And that’s been the case under president after president, prime minister after prime minister. It won’t change,” Mr Johnson told reporters, adding he had not yet spoken to the president-elect.

He said he looked forward to working with Mr 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, many, many, many other issues”.

Mr Raab went further by saying Mr Biden would “have no greater ally, no more dependable friend than the United Kingdom”. Former finance minister Sajid Javid predicted a much better chance of sealing a trade deal under the new administration rather than the “protectionist” Trump.

Britain is pursuing trade deals around the world after leaving the EU in January, to try to project Mr Johnson’s vision of a “global Britain”, but talks with the United States have slowed over the last few months.

Describing himself as a “keen student of the United States’ trade policy”,Mr Johnson said he believed there was a good chance the two sides would “do something on trade” despite Washington being “tough negotiators”.

But it is Britain’s trade talks with the EU that might cast a shadow over the relationship between Mr Johnson and Mr Biden, after the US president-elect expressed concerns over whether Britain would uphold Northern Ireland’s 1998 Belfast Agreement and said he had hoped for a “different outcome” from the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The British government has repeatedly said it will uphold the Belfast Agreement and on Sunday, Mr Raab accused the EU of putting it in jeopardy.

US senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, told the BBC he expected “some reconsideration of whatever comments may have been made about the moment of Brexit”.

“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has endured over decades and I expect that there will be opportunities promptly for there to be some visits, some conversations.” –Reuters