Boris Johnson today tried to lay the groundwork for a strong relationship with Joe Biden as he insisted there is ‘far more that unites us than divides us’ amid fears the two men will not get along.
Mr Biden previously described Mr Johnson as ‘a physical and emotional clone’ of Donald Trump and the President-elect is also vehemently opposed to Brexit.
Meanwhile, Democratic sources and advisers have questioned whether Mr Johnson and Mr Biden will be able to work closely together because of past controversial comments made by the PM about Barack Obama.
Mr Johnson this afternoon sought to downplay previous controversies and comments as he said the two nations have ‘common values, we have common interests, we have a common global perspective’.
He also claimed there is a ‘good chance’ of Downing Street agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal with the new White House.
Critics have suggested it may be harder to get a beneficial deal from Mr Biden than it would have been from Mr Trump.
But the PM talked up the chances of a deal as he also warned the US are ‘tough negotiators’ and he ‘never believed’ talks would be a ‘complete pushover under any US administration’.
Mr Johnson’s intervention came after Dominic Raab said the US presidential election result is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and he is ‘very confident’ there is a ‘huge bedrock of underlying interests and values that bind us very closely together’.
The Foreign Secretary said Mr Biden will have ‘no greater ally and no more dependable friend than the United Kingdom’.
Mr Raab also became the first member of the UK Government to say that all votes should be counted in a democratic election after Mr Trump called for counting to be stopped.
Number 10 repeatedly refused to be drawn on the issue on Friday as the Government tried to stay impartial over Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
It came after it was reported that Mr Johnson had joked with aides on Friday that Mr Biden is ‘one of the few world leaders I haven’t insulted’.
Number 10 is now busy preparing for the first phone call between Mr Johnson and the President-elect, with Mr Raab predicting it will take place ‘shortly, in due course’.
Boris Johnson today insisted there is ‘far more that unites us than divides us’ as he tried to win over Joe Biden
Mr Biden has previously described Mr Johnson as a ‘clone’ of Donald Trump. The President-elect is also opposed to Brexit
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today said the result of the US presidential election is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’
Mr Biden’s previous comments and stance on Brexit were raised with the PM this lunchtime as he dismissed concerns that he and the President-elect could clash.
He said: ‘I think there is far more that unites the government of this country and the government in Washington at any stage than divides us.
‘We have common values, we have common interests, we have a common global perspective.
‘There is a huge amount of work we need to do together to protect those values.’
He added: ‘You have the United States and Britain standing together as they have done many times in the past to protect those values so there is far more, I think, that unites us than divides us.’
On Brexit, Mr Johnson said a trade deal with the EU is ‘there to be done’ as he also sounded optimistic about the chances of striking an accord with the US.
He said: ‘I am a keen student of the United States’ trade policy and they are tough negotiators and I have never believed that this was going to be something that was going to be a complete pushover under any US administration.
‘I think there is a good chance we will do something.’
Mr Raab was asked this morning if the election of Mr Biden is ‘good news’ for the UK and he told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: ‘We are excited by the opportunities for working with the new administration.
‘The contours adjust, the opportunities and the risks adjust when there are changes in the White House.
‘But I am very confident, from climate change to cooperation on coronavirus to counter terrorism, there is a huge bedrock of underlying interests and values that bind us very closely together.
‘When we look at what Joe Biden has talked about doing in foreign policy he will have no greater ally and no more dependable friend than the United Kingdom.’
Democratic sources suggested Mr Johnson could be in for a frosty first phone call with Mr Biden, telling the Sunday Times: ‘They do not think Boris Johnson is an ally.
‘They think Britain is an ally. But there will be no special relationship with Boris Johnson.’
Former vice president Mr Biden is said to still be angry at Mr Johnson over remarks he made in 2016 about Mr Obama.
The then-Mayor of London had lashed out at Mr Obama for urging British voters to back staying in the EU and criticised the then-President for removing a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.
He suggested Mr Obama’s decision to get rid of the statue was a ‘symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire’.
The comments prompted a furious backlash at the time and Mr Biden is said to still harbour resentment.
The new Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, is also reportedly not a fan of Mr Johnson with a US politician who is likely to be given a role in the new administration recently telling friends: ‘If you think Joe hates him, you should hear Kamala.’
Mr Raab dismissed fears of the two men having a bad relationship as he said: ‘You can always pick a snippet from the newspapers, or from activists around the campaign.
‘What I know from talking to the leaders I have spoken to is that we are going to have a very strong relationship and there is just so much that we can cooperate on and so much of what President-elect Biden has been talking about.’
Tory former chancellor Sajid Javid today insisted Mr Johnson’s past comments and alliance with Mr Trump will not have any impact on the Special Relationship which he argued is ‘far bigger than personalities’.
He said the extent of the PM’s relationship with Mr Trump had been ‘completely overstated’ and the pair simply had a ‘good, strong working relationship’.
Mr Javid told Sky News he believed Mr Johnson and Mr Biden will ‘hit it off straight away’.
Mr Trump has made clear he intends to contest the result of the election but Mr Raab said this morning it is ‘now very clear’ Mr Biden has won.
The Foreign Secretary said: ‘The reality is we want to respect the integrity of the processes in place. It is not for us to start adjudicating on the appeals, the legal claims, the counter claims.
‘But what we have said, the result is now very clear, it is beyond reasonable doubt in my view and we welcome the new administration.’
Downing Street faced intense criticism last week after the Prime Minister’s Deputy Official Spokesman refused to say that all votes should be counted in democratic elections.
When asked the question today, Mr Raab initially tried to dodge the issue before conceding: ‘In principle, yes of course.’
When asked why the Government could not say that last week, Mr Raab told Sophy Ridge: ‘Because what you are really trying to do Sophy is drag me into the legal claims about whether all the votes have properly been counted when you look at the mail votes, the votes in person, and the claims that have been made for example about the posted military ballots.
‘I just don’t want to get sucked into that.’
Mr Johnson yesterday congratulated Mr Biden after he was called as the winner in the crucial battleground states of Pennsylvania and Nevada, giving him an insurmountable lead over Mr Trump.
The Prime Minister tweeted: ‘Congratulations to Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States and to Kamala Harris on her historic achievement.
‘The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.’
Mr Johnson is said to have joked to aides on Friday: ‘Joe Biden is one of the few world leaders I haven’t insulted.’
The PM will be hoping to strike a close relationship with the new President and Number 10 wants to use the first phone call between the two men to lay the groundwork.
It is thought Mr Johnson will emphasise the need for the two nations to work together to combat climate change ahead of the UK hosting a UN climate summit next year.