Boris Johnson congratulates Joe Biden in call with US president-elect

US president-elect Joe Biden
US president-elect Joe Biden (AP)
18:41pm, Tue 10 Nov 2020
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Boris Johnson says he has spoken to Joe Biden to congratulate the US president-elect in their first call since his victory over Donald Trump.

The Prime Minister and the Democrat spoke at 4pm on Tuesday amid concerns the pair may not have a smooth relationship because of controversies surrounding Brexit.

But the call, which is understood to have lasted for around 25 minutes, puts Mr Johnson among the first world leaders to have secured a call with Mr Biden since his triumph in the November 3 election.

No 10 said that during the wide-ranging call Mr Johnson “warmly congratulated” Mr Biden on his victory, which Republican Mr Trump continues to contest with baseless allegations of fraud.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister added: “I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities – from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.”

Downing Street said the Prime Minister discussed trade with Mr Biden, as he seeks to negotiate a post-Brexit deal with Washington.

And they were said to have discussed Nato, which Mr Trump routinely railed against during his single term as president, which continues into January.

A No 10 spokesman said the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic was another topic of discussion, with both men using the “build back better” slogan, and that Mr Johnson invited Mr Biden to the United Nations climate crisis summit being hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November next year.

And the Prime Minister was said to have sent his congratulations to Kamala Harris, who made history in becoming the first woman of colour to be elected vice-president.

A swift call with the incoming president is highly-coveted. His first was reported as being with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

But it will be particularly highly-welcomed for Mr Johnson amid concerns the pair could face diplomatic difficulties.

The pair have never met before, but Mr Biden has likened the Prime Minister to a “physical and emotional clone” of Mr Trump.

Unlike the Republican incumbent, Mr Biden is not a natural ally of Brexit.

He has warned that a trade deal with the US is “contingent” on there being no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland amid unease over Mr Johnson’s controversial Brexit legislation.

The Democrat also warned that the peace process must not “become a casualty of Brexit” in a warning over the UK Internal Market Bill.

After Mr Johnson announced his call, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he too held a “warm and engaging call” with Mr Biden, who proudly speaks of his Irish heritage.

Mr Martin said that the president-elect “underlined his commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement.

In other controversies, allies of Mr Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice-president, have not forgiven Mr Johnson for highlighting the first African American president’s “part-Kenyan” heritage, claiming it had given him an “ancestral dislike of the British empire”.

German chancellor Angela Merkel also secured a call from Mr Biden on Tuesday.

The order of Mr Biden’s calls was not clear.

But the call with Mr Johnson came after it emerged his earlier tweet congratulating Mr Biden had the word “Trump” faintly concealed in it.

Downing Street said a “technical error” meant parts of an alternative congratulatory statement for the Republican were overlaid on the final graphic.

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