Joe Biden’s brutal swipe at Boris Johnson after general election victory laid bare
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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss met her US counterpart in Washington for the third round of talks to reach a trade deal between the two countries earlier this month. Mr Johnson put an agreement with the US at the heart of his plans to revive the UK after Brexit, and Ms Truss’s decision to travel during the coronavirus pandemic highlighted London’s willingness. However, despite Ms Truss’ visit, the talks have been beset by disagreements and the Secretary of State, Robert Lighthizer, said a deal is “unlikely” to happen this year.
The upcoming US presidential election, due to take place on November 3, could also further complicate things for Britain.
Mr Biden, Mr Trump’s Democratic rival and currently ahead of the polls, is said to be against the landmark free-trade deal between the two nations.
His position on the matter is not exactly known, but Democratic Party leaders have been much more lukewarm on Brexit than leading Republicans.
Mr Biden was vice-president in an administration that put itself squarely behind David Cameron’s Remain campaign, notably clashing with Mr Johnson in the process.
Mr Biden said in Dublin the day after the referendum: “We’d have preferred a different outcome.”
He then lashed out at the “reactionary politicians and demagogues peddling xenophobia, nationalism and isolationism” in Europe and the US.
Moreover, the US Democrat even described Mr Johnson as a “Britain Trump”.
Launching a brutal swipe at the Prime Minister, Mr Biden told a fundraiser in San Francisco as Britain’s general election results rolled in last December: “You’re going to see people saying: ‘My God, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the President, is able to win’.”
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Despite Mr Biden’s comments, Henry Zeffman, the Washington Correspondent at The Times, argued a US-UK trade deal might still go ahead.
Mr Zeffman explained: “First as Foreign Secretary and then Prime Minister, he [Mr Johnson] dazzled President Trump, who seemingly forgot their brief feud in 2015. When Mr Trump claimed that parts of London were ‘so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives’, Mr Johnson, as Mayor, jabbed back: ‘The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.’
“It will help that Mr Biden is affable by nature. His attachment to the old-school Senate mores of bipartisanship and cross-party amity is so strong that it arguably became a weakness during his primary campaign among a Democratic grass roots eager for relentless attacks on dissenters.”
He added: “The Prime Minister’s attempts to forge a positive relationship with Mr Biden will be helped too by the fact that beyond Brexit they have plenty in common.
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“As Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson failed in a last-ditch lobbying mission to Washington to persuade the Trump administration not to quit the Iran nuclear deal.
“A Biden government would rejoin it, as it would the Paris climate agreement of which the UK remains a champion.
“Mr Biden is a Russia hawk — Mr Obama’s attempt to ‘reset’ relations with President Putin feels a long time ago now — and would take a less capricious approach to NATO.”
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