Johnson hails ‘fantastic’ start to relations with new US president

Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

Boris Johnson has said he has formed a “good relationship” with new US president Joe Biden, saying they have had some “fantastic conversations” on climate change.

In an interview with the American CBS network, the Prime Minister said that UK and US thinking had been coming together on a range of issues in recent weeks.

“I’m very delighted, to have a good relationship with the White House, which is an important part of any UK prime minister’s mission,” he said.

Joe Biden
Mr Johnson says the messages coming from President Biden are ‘incredibly encouraging’ (Niall Carson/PA)

“I’ve had some good conversations already with President Biden – fantastic conversations about the way he sees things.

“There’s been some important developments in the way the UK- US thinking has been coming together in the last few weeks, and particularly on issues like climate change, on Nato, on Iran, but above all, on the ways that the US and the UK are going to work together to deal with the environmental challenge that faces our planet.

“I think some of the stuff we’re now hearing from the new American administration and from the new White House is incredibly encouraging and we want to work with the the president on that.”

Mr Johnson, who hosts a virtual meeting of G7 leaders on Friday, said that he also wanted to work with countries like the United States to ensure coronavirus vaccines were made available around the world.

“There’s no point in great countries like the United States, the UK, vaccinating our own populations if we don’t ensure that everybody gets a vaccine,” he said.

The Prime Minister sought to play down Mr Biden’s past description of him as a “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump” and the former president’s acquittal by the Senate on impeachment charges.

“I think the clear message that we get from the proceedings in America is that after all the toings and froings and all the kerfuffle, American democracy is strong and the American Constitution is strong and robust,” he said.

Mr Johnson sought to reassure Mr Biden – who is fiercely proud of his Irish roots – that he remained firmly committed to the Northern Ireland peace process.

“This is fundamental for us, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the peace agreement, the Good Friday process, the Belfast Agreement, these agreements are absolutely crucial,” he said.

Pressed on his support for the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit Withdrawal agreement following the recent row with the EU over vaccines, he replied: “We want to make sure that there’s free movement, north-south, free movement east-west, and we guarantee the rights of the people of Northern Ireland, of course.”

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