Boris Johnson described his collaboration with US President Joe Biden as “a big breath of fresh air” following the couple’s first face-to-face meeting – in which the two leaders appeared to sidestep a confrontation over l ‘North Ireland.
the Prime Minister met Donald Trump’s successor in Carbis Bay on Thursday, ahead of this week’s G7 summit at the seaside resort of Cornwall.
Mr Johnson said the new US administration had “so much to do together,” including on NATO and climate change – topics on which Mr Biden has radically different views from Mr Trump.
And the PM also suggested that a potentially tense conversation with the US President over post-Brexit deals in Northern Ireland was avoided, as he hailed “common ground” between the UK, the US. United and the EU on the preservation of the Good Friday agreement.
This follows reports that Mr Biden’s administration accused Mr Johnson’s government of “igniting” tensions during a ongoing dispute between UK and EU on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Downing Street did not deny that the UK had received a “demarche” – a formal diplomatic protest – from the US over the dispute, but said Messrs. Johnson and Biden were “in complete harmony” on the matter.
After his talks with the US President, which lasted about an hour and 20 minutes, Mr Johnson said: “The talks were great, they lasted a long time, we covered a wide range of topics.
“It’s wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and Joe Biden because there are so many things they want to do with us, from security to NATO to climate change.
“And it’s fantastic, it’s a breath of fresh air.”
When asked whether the US President – who has spoken often of his Irish roots – had clearly expressed his concern about the situation in Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson replied: ‘No he did not. .
“But what I can say is that America, the United States, Washington, the United Kingdom – plus the EU – have one thing that we absolutely all want to do; and that is to respect the Belfast Good Friday deal and to ensure we keep the balance of the ongoing peace process.
“It’s absolutely common ground and I’m optimistic we can do it.”
Mr Johnson and Mr Biden were due to meet at Saint Michael’s Mount, a historic castle on a tidal island off the Cornish coast.
Reports suggested their wives, Carrie Johnson and Jill Biden, were due to take a tour of the island while the leaders spoke.
But a number 10 source confirmed earlier that the visit to Saint Michael’s Mount was “unfortunately due to the weather” and talks have been rescheduled at Carbis Bay, where the G7 summit will be held between Friday and Sunday.
Ahead of their meeting, Mr Johnson, Mr Biden and their wives gathered to enjoy the view of the bay.
“It’s beautiful, I don’t want to go home,” Mr. Biden said.
And, after Dr Biden and Ms Johnson left the two leaders, the US President revealed how he told the Prime Minister ‘we have something in common, we both got married way above our post. “.
The newlywed Mr Johnson replied that he “was not going to object at this point, I am not going to disagree with the president there”.
“Or whatever else, I think it’s very likely,” he added.
Dr Biden – who spent time on the beach Thursday with Ms Johnson and her baby Wilfred – wore a jacket embroidered with the word ‘LOVE’ on the back, an item the first lady previously wore at the campaign launch rally presidential election of her husband in 2019.
Asked about her outfit, Dr Biden said: “I think we bring love to America.
“This is a world conference and we are trying to bring unity across the world and I think it’s important right now – that people feel a sense of oneness… feel a sense hope after this year of pandemic. “
Some immediately drew comparisons between Dr Biden’s jacket and his predecessor as First Lady Melania Trump, who wore a green jacket that read, “I really don’t care, you?” during a 2018 trip to a Texas border town to visit migrant children in shelters.
Before getting into the substance of their talks, Mr Biden and Mr Johnson had inspected documents relating to the Atlantic Charter, a declaration signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt in August 1941 which set common goals for the world after WWII.
And, as a result of their discussions, it was announced that the United States and the United Kingdom had agreed to a “New Atlantic Charter” to build on those commitments and aspirations set out 80 years ago. years.
In his own comments after talks with Mr Johnson, Mr Biden confirmed America’s commitment to buy 500 million doses of Pfizer COVID vaccine donate to the poorest countries.
He said the meeting with Mr Johnson had been “very productive” and said the revitalized Atlantic Charter would address “the key challenges of this century – cybersecurity, emerging technologies, global health and climate change”.
“We have affirmed the special relationship – this is not said lightly – the special relationship between our peoples and renewed our commitment to uphold the enduring democratic values that our two nations share,” said the US president.
It was recently reported that Mr Johnson disliked the term ‘special relationship’ and believed it made the UK ‘needy and weak’.
To mark their first reunion, Mr Johnson presented Mr Biden with a framed photograph of a mural of Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a leading figure in the 19th century abolitionist movement in the United States.
In return, the Prime Minister – an avid cyclist – received a bicycle and helmet made in the United States.
Dr Biden received a first edition of The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier, which Downing Street said was to reflect the author’s Cornish connections.
And Ms Johnson was given a leather tote bag made by military wives and a presidential silk scarf.