Boris Johnson arrives at the White House for first visit as PM

Boris Johnson arrived at the White House for his first visit as PM today on a mission to forge a new ‘special relationship’ with Joe Biden.

The premier appeared at the famous site in Washington DC, where he is holding talks with Vice President Kamala Harris before meeting the commander in chief.

Standing alongside Ms Harris at her offices in the Eisenhower building, Mr Johnson gushed that the two government were ‘cooperating at a higher and more intense level than at anytime I can remember’. She said the Transatlantic ties were ‘long and enduring’. 

Downing Street had been keen to use the imposing backdrop, where so many alliances between British and American leaders have been burnished. Mr Johnson said earlier that it is the ‘job of any Prime Minister of the UK to have a good relationship with the President of the United States’. 

And aides will have been pleased with the mood music leading up to the encounter – only the second face-to-face since they took office, thanks to Covid. 

Mr Johnson has hailed Mr Biden’s announcement at the UN general assembly today that the US climate change finance will be doubled to $11.4billion per year, or £8.3billion. The move gives the PM a springboard for the COP26 summit this Autumn. 

No10 was also delighted that the American administration has finally eased the draconian travel restrictions on Britons crossing the Atlantic. That announcement yesterday, taking effect from November, came as a surprise to many government figures, who had seemed unsure that they would achieve the breakthrough during the visit.

However, Mr Johnson has had to navigate some tricky moments, including having to defend the US decision to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban – something that caused fury in the UK and friction between the two governments.

The PM said Washington was entitled to believe ‘enough is enough’ after its forces spent 20 years propping up the country in the face of an Islamist insurgency. But he added: ‘Could we have done it a bit differently? Maybe we could.’

Mr Johnson would dearly love a strong indication from Mr Biden on a trade deal, but has seemed relentlessly – and uncharacteristically – downbeat about the prospects all week. The president is a strong supporter of Ireland and has made clear his concern that Brexit wrangling over Ulster’s trade rules could undermine the peace process.  

Mr Johnson also tried to nullify another bone of contention today by heaping praise on Mr Biden in an NBC interview, and taking a subtle jab at former President Donald Trump. Mr Biden was so enraged by the closeness between the men that he once famously described Mr Johnson as a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of Mr Trump.

‘What I will say about Joe Biden, dealing with the new American president, yes it is a breath of fresh air in the sense that there are some things on which we can really, really work together,’ Mr Johnson said during his visit to New York.

He singled out Mr Biden’s stance on climate change, commending the president for doing a ‘great’ job.

‘He’s great on that,’ Johnson said. ‘He wants to cut CO2, he wants to net zero by 2050, and he shares with me a basic view that you can do this without penalizing the economy.’  








The PM and Vice President Kamala Harris waved from the balcony before starting their discussions at the Eisenhower building on the White House campus this evening

The PM and Vice President Kamala Harris waved from the balcony before starting their discussions at the Eisenhower building on the White House campus this evening

The PM and Vice President Kamala Harris waved from the balcony before starting their discussions at the Eisenhower building on the White House campus this evening

Mr Johnson was holding discussions with Ms Harris ahead of his talks with president Joe Biden later this evening

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrive at the White House tonight, where he held talks with Vice President Kamala Harris before meeting the commander in chief

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrive at the White House tonight, where he held talks with Vice President Kamala Harris before meeting the commander in chief

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrive at the White House tonight, where he held talks with Vice President Kamala Harris before meeting the commander in chief

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the US war in Afghanistan

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the US war in Afghanistan

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the US war in Afghanistan

Mr Johnson and Ms Harris did not answer questions from waiting reporters as they gave some warm remarks about the Transatlantic relationship

Mr Johnson and Ms Harris did not answer questions from waiting reporters as they gave some warm remarks about the Transatlantic relationship

Mr Johnson and Ms Harris did not answer questions from waiting reporters as they gave some warm remarks about the Transatlantic relationship

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss chose to travel by train from New York to Washington DC. Both the PM and Mr Biden are known as train geeks

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss chose to travel by train from New York to Washington DC. Both the PM and Mr Biden are known as train geeks

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss chose to travel by train from New York to Washington DC. Both the PM and Mr Biden are known as train geeks

PM heaps praise on Joe Biden.. and has a dig at Donald Trump  

Boris Johnson heaped praise on Joe Biden today ahead of their White House meeting.

While doing so he also took a subtle jab at former President Donald Trump, who was widely known for his sometimes erratic foreign policy decisions that would frustrate and confuse allies.

‘What I will say about Joe Biden, dealing with the new American president, yes it is a breath of fresh air in the sense that there are some things on which we can really, really work together,’ Johnson told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in New York City.

He singled out Biden’s stance on climate change, commending the president for doing a ‘great’ job.

‘He’s great on that,’ Johnson said unequivocally. ‘He wants to cut CO2, he wants to net zero by 2050, and he shares with me a basic view that you can do this without penalizing the economy.’

Hours later Biden made good on that reputation by vowing to double the US climate change fund to $11 billion per year at his Tuesday address to the United Nations General Assembly. 

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As so often with prime ministerial trips abroad, Mr Johnson has ended up having to field a crisis at home, with soaring gas prices sending energy firms bust and fears the knock-on effect on CO2 supplies could cause food shortages.    

The premier and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss chose to travel by train from New York to Washington DC. Both Mr Johnson and Mr Biden are known to be train geeks. 

Standing alongside Ms Harris in the Eisenhower building where she has her offices this evening, Mr Johnson said: ‘Madame Vice President it’s a great honor and privilege for me to be here to meet you for the first time. 

‘I’ve heard a lot about you but it’s fantastic to be here and I want to thank the US government, your government, for the many ways in which we are cooperating now I think at a higher and more intense level than at anytime I can remember. 

‘I want to signal out the amazing work, the brave work, of the US military is helping the Kabul airlift. We could always done that without US leadership and I’m grateful for that.’

He also expressed gratitude for the new travel rules announced yesterday. ‘That’s great, that’s an improvement on the previous arrangements and thank you for your hard work on that.’

On trade, the PM said he was glad ‘your curious ban’ on British beef had been removed. ‘That’s a wonderful thing,’ he added.

And he said it had been a ‘really good day for the world’ with Mr Biden helping progress on climate change. 

‘I just want to say, Madame Vice President, Kamala, on climate change I think that today was a really good day for the world,’ he said.

‘And I thank the US government and President Biden for the steps you’ve taken to reassure the world that America is committed to helping to tackle climate change. And the last point we certainly shoulder to shoulder.’

Ms Harris said it was an ‘honour’ to welcome Mr Johnson to the White House.

‘As you will discuss with the president, the relationship between our two countries is a long and enduring one, one that we value based on shared priorities and based on as we know, what is increasingly evident about partnerships and alliances around the world,’ she said.

‘We are indeed interconnected and interdependent in so many ways and in many ways, more than before.’

She added: ‘And of course we must work and continue to work together to uphold and protect democratic principles and values around the globe. And we look forward to that continuing relationship, and our relationship as partners.’ 

Earlier, Mr Johnson said he has ‘plenty of reason to be optimistic’ about getting the free trade agreement (FTA) touted by Leave supporters as a major prize of departing the European Union but noted Americans ‘do negotiate very hard’.

His admission came after suggesting trade negotiations are not a priority for the US president, who he accepted has ‘a lot of fish to fry’.

Too late for Emma – Biden lifts UK travel ban that barred US to most Brits for 18 months

The vast majority of UK citizens have been barred from entering the United States since the height of the first wave of Covid last year.

On March 16, 2020, then president Trump blocked entry to British nationals if they had been in the UK, Ireland, the EU’s Schengen free travel zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the previous 14 days.

The ban had a chilling effect on transatlantic travel – as it was designed to do – prompting pleas from airlines and other travel firms for the rules to be eased as the threat from Covid recedes.

A high-profile victims of the ban has been the family of British tennis ace Emma Radacanu.

Her family was unable to travel to New York this month to watch her spectacular victory in the final of the US Open.

It has also deprived the beleaguered aviation sector of one of its most important and lucrative markets. 

Trump attempted to lift the flight ban in January as he left office, but incoming president Joe Biden reversed the decision and kept them in place to prevent a new wave of Covid overwhelming the US at the same time as he stepped up its vaccination programme.   

At present, travellers from the UK cannot visit the US without special permission from the United States government 

Britain dropped restrictions on fully vaccinated US visitors in July as a ‘goodwill gesture’ and he and Biden set up a dedicated working group in June to take the issue forward, following talks at the G7 summit in Cornwall. 

Mr Johnson has been arguing that the effectiveness of the UK’s vaccination programme means there is no justification for maintaining restrictions on fully jabbed travellers.

Freeing travel for Brits will provide a welcome tonic for travel and tourism, allowing business trips and holidays in popular destinations like Florida and California. 

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Mr Johnson spoke to broadcasters on the terrace of a skyscraper in New York, where he has been attending a UN summit, before getting the train to Washington DC for his first visit to the White House since Mr Biden succeeded Donald Trump.

The Vote Leave figurehead downplayed the prospects of getting a trade deal by the next election, raising the possibility that he could leave Downing Street without achieving a key ambition for the post-Brexit era.

Asked if he would get the deal by 2024, the Prime Minister told Sky News: ‘We will keep going with free trade deals around the world including in the United States.

‘I have plenty of reason to be optimistic about that. But the Americans do negotiate very hard.’

Mr Johnson heads to the White House having conceded Britain and the US could have possibly taken a different course over the withdrawal of troops of Afghanistan, with the president having rejected his calls to extend the deadline.

‘America has been there for 20 years and it’s a respectable argument to say that enough is enough. Look, I mean, could we have done it a bit differently? Maybe we could,’ the Prime Minister told American broadcaster NBC.

Mr Johnson is expected to discuss the stalled trade talks with Mr Biden, as well as what further efforts they can take to address the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The PM had pleaded with the president to push back his deadline for drawing down all US troops after the Taliban marched back to power.

But Mr Biden rejected the request, meaning potentially thousands of vulnerable Afghans who worked for the UK and their families were left behind.

Travelling on an Amtrak train to DC, Mr Johnson had been buoyed by the announcement the US will drop the blanket ban on travellers arriving from the UK due to the coronavirus crisis.

Just one day before the end of the ban was announced, Mr Johnson was downplaying to reporters any expectations that he could ‘crack’ the issue this week.

Aboard the RAF Voyager to New York, Mr Johnson also seemed negative about the prospect of getting a trade deal in place any time soon.

‘On the FTA, the reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry,’ Mr Johnson told reporters.

In the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016, then-president Barack Obama warned Britons they would be at the ‘back of the queue’ for any trade deal if they voted for Brexit.

The EU departure also presents a quandary to the Prime Minister’s relationship with Mr Biden, who is vocally proud of his Irish heritage and has warned there will be no trade deal if peace in Northern Ireland is jeopardised by the EU departure.

A major diplomatic row has also broken out over a new military pact between the UK, US and Australia because it scuppered a multibillion-dollar contract for France to provide submarines to Australia.

France took the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra, but declined to do the same from London, accusing the UK of being America’s lapdog.

After meeting Mr Biden and Ms Harris in the White House, Mr Johnson will have dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Washington.

In an interview with NBC he admitted the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, which allowed a swift extremist takeover could ‘maybe’ have been handled better.

But he suggested it was time for the Afghan people to run their own country instead of relying on the West.

The opening months of his presidency have included a series of difficult moments with friendly nations that were expecting greater cooperation from Biden following four years of Trump’s ‘America first’ approach to foreign policy.

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the US war in Afghanistan. 

He has faced differences over how to go about sharing coronavirus vaccines with the developing world and over pandemic travel restrictions. And there are questions about the best way to respond to military and economic moves by China.

Mr Biden also finds himself in the midst of a fresh diplomatic spat with France, the United States’ oldest ally, after announcing plans – along with Britain – to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

The move is expected to give Australia improved capabilities to patrol the Pacific amid growing concern about the Chinese military’s increasingly aggressive tactics, but it upended a French defense contract worth at least $66 billion to sell diesel-powered submarines to Australia.








Mr Johnson (left) was put on the back foot in his relations with Mr Biden after building a notable warm alliance with former president Donald Trump (pictured together in New York in 2019)

Mr Johnson (left) was put on the back foot in his relations with Mr Biden after building a notable warm alliance with former president Donald Trump (pictured together in New York in 2019)

Mr Johnson (left) was put on the back foot in his relations with Mr Biden after building a notable warm alliance with former president Donald Trump (pictured together in New York in 2019) 

Mr Johnson tried to paper over tensions on Afghanistan by saying Washington was entitled to believe 'enough is enough' after its forces spent 20 years propping up the country in the face of an Islamist insurgency.

Mr Johnson tried to paper over tensions on Afghanistan by saying Washington was entitled to believe 'enough is enough' after its forces spent 20 years propping up the country in the face of an Islamist insurgency.

Mr Johnson tried to paper over tensions on Afghanistan by saying Washington was entitled to believe ‘enough is enough’ after its forces spent 20 years propping up the country in the face of an Islamist insurgency.

President Biden's administration has faced widespread criticism for its rapid pull-out from Afghanistan, which left the country in the hands of one of a brutal theocratic regime (Kandahar pictured today)

President Biden's administration has faced widespread criticism for its rapid pull-out from Afghanistan, which left the country in the hands of one of a brutal theocratic regime (Kandahar pictured today)

President Biden’s administration has faced widespread criticism for its rapid pull-out from Afghanistan, which left the country in the hands of one of a brutal theocratic regime (Kandahar pictured today)

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