LONDON – President Joe Biden’s conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month did not feature in his most important policy moves for most audiences, but I felt in London that one of the first phone calls he made after the US President’s inauguration was to the British President.
Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a Washington – based think tank, said: “I was reassured to see Joe Biden’s early journey to Prime Minister Johnson.”
Which world leader a new US president speaks to when clues are being given to the priorities and preferences of the incoming administration? The United Kingdom attaches great importance to Atlantic cross-relations – a so-called “special relationship”, a phrase coined 70 years ago by British wartime leader Winston Churchill. Successive prime ministers are among the first to receive a phone call or visit from a new president, signifying a lasting bond between nations.
However, there is considerable concern here as to whether Johnson can maintain England’s close relationship with the United States. Johnson worked hard to cultivate a hatred for former President Donald Trump and fellow Europeans. But Johnson has long been at odds with Biden, calling him once “Trump’s physical and emotional clone” Recovering America’s international alliances has been central to his foreign policy agenda.
“The next four years will be a challenging time for a special relationship. The British government must carefully handle its relationship with President Biden, ”Gardiner said.
Doing so will transcend personal and political animosity. Relations broke down in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama warned that if Britain left the EU it would be “behind the queue” for any trade deal with the United States – which angered then-London Mayor Johnson. Brexit his signature policy initiative.
Biden warned Johnson last year to pursue a Brexit deal that would create a tough border between the UK and Ireland and undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.
Johnson blamed the removal of his personal hero Churchill’s bust from Obama’s Oval Office, which Snape wrote as a sign of Obama’s “part-Kenyan” tradition, which may explain his “ancestral hatred of the British Empire”. Gave its colonial rule over Kenya. Critics have denounced the idea as racist.
In contrast, Trump encouraged Britain to leave the EU and hung up on the prospect of a quick and “massive” US trade deal. During a rare state visit in 2019, Britain formally fell in love with Trump, rolling the red carpet and the royal family. Nonetheless, nothing was available for it.
A State Department spokesman said: “Countries have shared a special relationship that is fundamental to US foreign policy, and we will continue our strong cooperation with our strong partner on our shared priorities.”
The value that the UK holds in its relationship with the United States is that snaps like this are very painful. In the second half of the 20th century, as the British Empire shrank, its influence in Washington could be seen as a measure of its own global status.
However, according to historian and journalist Max Hastings, the outrage over England’s special relationship today leads to a distorted view of the country’s position on the world stage.
“Britain is a very good, middle-ranking power, in good times, a very successful economy. But it is no longer one of the most important countries in the world,” he said.
Download NBC News app For important news and politics
In recent years, Britain has fought with US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, becoming a close defense and intelligence partner, and Heavily invested In the US economy. Nonetheless, the hostings insist that both parties act in their own national interest, with no shared sentiment.
“Never make yourself a child. The United States can do us no good. That does not mean there is no reason to have a grievance against the United States, it just has to be realistic,” he said.
“It would be to our advantage for the Americans to believe that this is a terrible British deputy – especially the deputy prime minister – having a special relationship.”
With Biden focusing on the corona virus epidemic and boosting the U.S. economy, that dynamic is unlikely to change anytime soon.
“I think there will be some disappointment in the UK as the trade deal is less of a priority for Joe Biden’s management,” said Louise Lukens, former vice president of the US embassy in London and now senior partner at Signum Global Advisors. , A business consulting firm focused on the impact of politics and policy.
Still, Biden and Johnson have opportunities to collaborate. In their phone call, the two leaders discussed how to work together to tackle climate change and epidemics, and expressed their shared commitment to NATO. Britain and the United States share similar views on confronting Russia, Iran and China.
However, after the last four years, the UK may have to prove itself as a worthy ally.
“Boris Johnson should be prepared to go to Joe Biden and say,‘ We can play a key role in helping you meet your policy goals and meet the challenges you want to face, ’” Lucans said.
“But, at the same time, it provides an opportunity to show that we are still a relevant player in the world.”