Katy Balls

Boris gets Biden’s first European call

Boris gets Biden's first European call
Getty images
Text settings

Although there has been much speculation of late that Boris Johnson will struggle to forge ties with Joe Biden, the pair's relationship has got off to a promising start. After making his first phone call to America's neighbour Canada, the president-elect shared a phone call with the UK Prime Minister.

A Downing Street spokesperson says Johnson used the call to congratulate Biden on his election as president of the United States and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on her historic achievement: 

'They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead, in areas such as trade and security – including through Nato'. 

As was the case in Johnson's initial tweet offering congratulations, he emphasised to Biden that the pair could work together in tackling climate change – with the Prime Minister inviting him to attend the COP26 climate change summit that the UK is hosting in Glasgow next year. Other 'shared priorities' Johnson mentioned to the Democrat included 'promoting democracy' and 'building back better from the coronavirus pandemic'.  

While the No. 10 read-out does not mention Brexit, it's understood that the subject of Northern Ireland and Brexit was raided by Biden. He also discussed the issue in his later call with Ireland's taoiseach where the Irish government say the President-elect 'reaffirmed his full support for the Good Friday Agreement and they discussed the importance of a Brexit outcome that respects the GFA and ensures no return of a border on the island of Ireland'.

While it is possible to read too much into the order of first calls to leaders from the president-elect, Johnson's place in the pecking order will be welcomed in 10 Downing Street. It's also of encouragement to the UK side that the White House readout of the call references the special relationship. There was an expectation that EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron could be contacted before him. The conversation took place at 4pm, with the French president the next leader Biden is thought to have spoken to. 

ThatJohnson was so high on the list suggests that, despite Biden's criticism of parts of the Internal Market Bill, his support for the European Union and Johnson's 'part-Kenyan' remark about Barack Obama, he holds the view that it is in both government's interests to have a good relationship. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

Topics in this articlePolitics