Biden to visit UK first as he plans to work closely with PM

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Nick Allen
·3 min read
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Boris Johnson speaks to president-elect of the United States in November
Boris Johnson speaks to president-elect of the United States in November

Joe Biden believes a patched-up relationship with Boris Johnson will help to decide the "destiny of the world" as the president-elect is set to head to the UK for his first foreign visit outside of North America, sources have told the Telegraph.

A close friend of Mr Biden said the leaders will bury differences over Brexit as British officials said they expected the UK to be one of the first foreign destinations, in what would be a major diplomatic coup for Mr Johnson.

Mr Biden is due to be sworn in on Wednesday. Sources who would be closely involved in any visit have circled the G7 summit in June, hosted in the UK, as the potential date for the new president’s trip across the Atlantic.

Mr Biden opposed Brexit, and feels strong loyalties to his ancestral home in Ireland. He warned repeatedly last year, including directly to Mr Johnson, that the Good Friday Agreement must not become a "casualty of Brexit".

But a friend of Mr Biden told The Telegraph: "Boris is a conservative, Joe's a moderate [Democrat] so I think they can get over it. I think they'll end up getting along.

"Joe's view will be that they'll have the destiny of the world on their shoulders so he'll want to overcome any political differences.

"I think there'll be more empathy than there was between Boris and Donald Trump. Boris seemed to get along with Trump, but I don't know if he really did."

Mr Johnson and Mr Trump appeared to have developed quite a rapport
Mr Johnson and Mr Trump appeared to have developed quite a rapport

The Telegraph understands that Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is hoping to visit Washington in coming weeks, Covid-19 restrictions allowing.

The UK's ambassador in Washington, Dame Karen Pierce, is expected to attend Mr Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

Mr Biden’s priority of tackling the pandemic at home means a trip to Europe before the summer is unlikely.

"I don’t think he will visit anywhere else before the G7, except possibly Canada," one well-placed UK government source told The Telegraph.

Mr Biden is expected to make a second trip to the UK this year for the United Nations' climate change conference in Glasgow in the Autumn.

A Foreign Office source said claims of a personality clash between Mr Biden and Mr Johnson were "overblown".

"I am pretty hopeful," the source said. "I am not going to pretend it is going to be plain sailing. There will always be differences. But fundamentally we are headed in the same direction.

"Biden wants to re-engage with the world. Britain has kept America's seat warm in some of these multilateral institutions."

In an exclusive interview in The Telegraph, The EU's first ever ambassador to Britain and former US ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida says Mr Biden's election has great "potential for cooperation" between the EU, the UK and the US, declaring: "We need to work with other partners. We cannot do this alone."

It came as US commercial airlines warned of an increase in passengers checking in guns ahead of inauguration amid fears of a return of violence around Wednesday's inauguration.