There was a time when Joe Biden called Boris Johnson “a physical and emotional clone” of then-President Donald Trump. However, in the months since the elections that brought Joe Biden to the White House, the relationship between the two leaders has been relaxing, so much so that at the last G7 summit, and also this Tuesday, Johnson described it as “a breath of fresh air ”the deal he maintains with the current president of the United States, as opposed to the always tense bond that the Downing Street tenant had with Trump.
It has not been taken into account that the Pentagon turned a deaf ear to London’s requests to give UK troops more time to leave Afghanistan, from where Washington left in its own way and marking its own times. Johnson was a strong advocate of Brexit while Biden called on his friend across the Atlantic to prevent his departure from the European Union from destabilizing the peace achieved in Northern Ireland with the 1998 Good Friday Accords, which ended decades of conflict.
Partly due to his Irish origins, Biden warned, before his election as president, that there would be no future trade agreement with London if the Johnson administration did not withdraw controversial clauses from the legal text that would jeopardize the peace achieved. . And yet, there were no frictions in what was the British prime minister’s first visit to the White House, in which that “special relationship” that Winston Churchill praised to describe the strong ties that existed between the two democracies has been staged.
Johnson arrived in Washington by train from New York (as Joe Biden used to do from Delaware when he was a senator), after attending the United Nations summit, which served to joke and make relaxed comments already in the Oval Office, such as “the love “professed by US rail personnel for the president, according to Johnson.
Biden assured that they talked about trade, in reference to a possible trade agreement between the European country and the United States, which would be of great importance for the United Kingdom after Brexit but did not contribute any headline after the meeting of both men beyond that they have to keep working on it.
Contrary to what might be deduced after what happened last August in Afghanistan, with the hasty and chaotic departure of the US Army, Johnson praised the role of the US Army in the Kabul airlift. In passing, he thanked the Biden government for lifting the ban on British beef imports last year, imposed after an outbreak of mad cow disease.
The thorniest of the issues London had to grapple with with Washington in the Trump era was climate change. Also in this area, concord reigned this Tuesday. Biden told Johnson that he would see the UK at the global warming conference later this year in Glasgow, Scotland. For his part, the Conservative Party leader said it was “fantastic to see the United States taking a step forward and getting involved” in the fight against global warming. With Biden in power, the United States has renewed its promises to reduce greenhouse gases and returned its country to the Paris Agreement.
Johnson’s team viewed the visit as a triumph. For them, the relaxed meeting on Tuesday shows that Britain can prosper on the world stage after its divorce last year from the European Union. This honeymoon -at least in the forms- comes in the middle of a serious crisis between Washington and Paris, after the announcement of the strategic alliance of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia whose aim, according to analysts, is to put a stop to the Chinese expansionism between the east coast of Africa and the eastern Pacific. This alliance has shaken the international board, bypassing the strategic interests of other powers in the region, including France and the European Union.
Before the meeting in the Oval Office, where both political leaders made statements with the mask imposed by covid-19 on, Johnson had already advanced, with the effusiveness that characterizes him, that the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States was “so good as it has been for decades ”. Again, both men’s passion for trains was part of the narrative. Johnson said he has a special bond with Biden as they are both “train freaks.” Yet the sometimes eccentric premier Briton said he was not sure if they also used the same brand of toothpaste, a point in common that two of his predecessors had in their positions, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
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