'No greater ally' - British minister predicts close ties with Biden

  • World
  • Sunday, 08 Nov 2020

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after the news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 U.S. presidential election over President Donald Trump, in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will have no closer ally or more dependable friend than Britain, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday, expressing confidence the two countries' "special relationship" would endure.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was once fondly dubbed "Britain Trump" by President Donald Trump, congratulated Biden on his victory on Saturday, saying he looked forward to "working closely together on our shared priorities".

But some say Johnson, a leading force in the campaign to leave the European Union, might struggle to forge a close bond with Biden, who has cast doubt over Brexit and has never met the prime minister.

However Raab, and other members of the governing Conservative Party were keen to underline how much overlap there now was between the incoming U.S. administration and that of the British government on shared interests.

"I am very confident from climate change to cooperation on coronavirus and counter-terrorism there is a huge bedrock of underlying interests and values that binds us very closely together," Raab told Sky News.

"He (Biden) will have no greater ally, no more dependable friend than the United Kingdom."

Conservative former finance minister Sajid Javid echoed his views, calling the election the "best outcome" for Britain and predicting that Johnson had a much better chance of sealing a trade deal under Biden rather than the "protectionist" Trump.

Britain is pursuing trade deals around the world after leaving the EU in January, to try to project Johnson's vision of a "global Britain", but talks with the United States have slowed over the last few months.

But it is Britain's trade talks with the EU that might cast a shadow over the relationship between Johnson and Biden, after the U.S. president-elect expressed concerns over whether Britain would uphold Northern Ireland's 1998 peace agreement and said he had hoped for a "different outcome" from the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The British government has repeatedly said it would uphold the Good Friday Agreement, which ended 30 years of violence in the British province of Northern Ireland, and on Sunday, Raab accused the EU of putting it in jeopardy in their talks.

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, told the BBC he expected "some reconsideration of whatever comments may have been made about the moment of Brexit".

"The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has endured over decades and I expect that there will be opportunities promptly for there to be some visits, some conversations."

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry)

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