BORIS Johnson sought to smooth relations with Joe Biden today by stressing how climate change will help the pair forge a close partnership.
The PM congratulated Mr Biden on becoming president-elect, and his running mate Kamala Harris on becoming the first female Vice President, as he spoke publicly for the first time since their victory was confirmed.
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He delivered a much warmer message than the muted tone of the statement he and the Foreign Secretary issued on Saturday to acknowledge Mr Biden’s victory.
And while he acknowledged that striking a US trade deal would be harder with Mr Biden in charge, he insisted there is still “a good chance we’ll do something”.
Mr Johnson also appeared to tackle fears that his past will make it difficult to strike up a close partnership with Mr Biden’s administration.
The pair have not yet met – although the Prime Minister will "shortly" call the future president.
It comes as key Biden ally Chris Coons, the front-runner to be the next Secretary of State, today called on Mr Johnson to “reconsider” his comments about Barack Obama’s “part-Kenyan” ancestry – remarks he made during the Brexit referendum in 2019.
And Mr Biden has himself been very critical of Mr Johnson, branding him “a physical and emotional clone of Mr Trump” just last year.
But Mr Johnson brushed aside the criticism today, insisting there was “far more that unites us than divides us”.
And he heaped praise on Mr Biden and Ms Harris for their “well-known commitment” on tackling climate change in a sign of how he intends to mend relations.
He said the UK’s hosting of next year’s COP 26 climate change summit will give the pair a common platform to unite on.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “I think now with President Biden in the White House in Washington, we have the real prospect of American global leadership in tackling climate change.”
The PM’s much warmer response to Mr Biden’s victory today marks a significant turning point in the UK Government’s relations with Washington.
On Friday, Downing Street had repeatedly refused to criticise Mr Trump’s claims of voter fraud and notably refused to say whether every count should be voted.
But this morning, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab effectively severed ties with Mr Trump, who is still refusing to concede the election.
Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We want to avoid getting sucked in to the domestic US politics, but it’s very clear now in our view that there is a definitive result.
"We look forward to working with the new administration and we’re all eyes on that.
"I’m sure Donald Trump and his team will consider exactly what they want to do in the days ahead.”
The Foreign Secretary insisted Mr Biden will have “no greater ally or dependable friend” than the UK Government.
Asked how he intends to repair relations with Mr Biden, Mr Johnson said: “I think that there is far more that unites the government of this country and government in Washington any time, any stage, than divides us.
“We have common values. We have common interests. We have a common global perspective.
"There's a huge amount of work we need to do together to protect those values: a belief in democracy, in free speech around the world, in human rights, in free trade, in the rules-based international order.”
I think now with President Biden in the White House in Washington, we have the real prospect of American global leadership in tackling climate change.
The PM accepted that striking a trade deal with Mr Biden as president would not be easy and predicted they will be “tough negotiations”.
He said: “I’ve never believed that this was going to be something that was going to be a complete pushover under any U.S. administration.
"I think there's a good chance we'll do something. Liz Truss and her team have made a huge amount of progress and we'll get on.”
But former Chancellor Sajid Javid said he believed a trade deal with the US was now “far more likely”.
He told the Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: "Let's look at the evidence, let's look at what Donald Trump actually did when he was in office when it came to trade with the UK.
"He slapped tariffs on UK aluminium, UK steel, Scotch whisky – that not only hurt people in America in terms of higher prices, but it also cost jobs here in the UK.
"President Trump is a protectionist, he has been very clear about that, he's paralysed the WTO (World Trade Organisation).
"We now want to strike more trade deals across the world and actually what you need is a president who believes in free trade, and that's what we're going to have with Joe Biden."
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