US election: Post-Brexit UK will not be ‘centre of gravity’ for Biden administration, says former security adviser

Andrew Woodcock
·2 min read
Joe Biden (AP)
Joe Biden (AP)

Post-Brexit Britain will not be Washington’s “centre of gravity” in Europe under a Joe Biden presidency, a former UK national security adviser has warned.

Sir Peter Ricketts, who was Britain’s ambassador to Nato and France and chief mandarin at the Foreign Office as well as servicing as David Cameron’s NSA from 2010-12, said that the Democrat candidate, if elected, will look to Berlin and Paris as his main interlocutors in Europe.

His comments come after Biden warned that peace in Northern Ireland was more of a priority to him than the US/UK trade deal being sought by Boris Johnson, tweeting that the Good Friday Agreement must not become a “casualty of Brexit”.

With Biden in a comfortable polling lead over Republican Donald Trump a week ahead of the presidential election, Sir Peter said that many in Europe will be “encouraged” if he wins and “eager to establish new relations” with the White House.

But he told the Politico website: “When Biden looks towards Europe, he will see Paris and Berlin more as the centre of gravity of what’s really important for America in Europe, both economically and in security terms, and Britain will be seen rather as an outlier, rather outside the mainstream of Europe.

“There will continue to be an important bilateral relationship on defence and security of course. But in other areas, Britain will not have the same prominence it has been used to having in Washington because, frankly, Britain is less useful to the US administration.”

After four years of Trump, Ricketts said that a Biden victory in the U.S. presidential election on 3 November will usher in a “much less confrontational, more courteous and consultative style” towards America’s international partners, including Britain.

But he said he expected a Biden administration to prioritise trade with the EU at a point when the UK “has put itself out of an influential position in Europe”.

Ricketts said: “The Biden administration would be very careful, very prudent about how to deal with this Brexit Britain.”

He predicted that the EU and UK will eventually strike a “thin” trade deal, despite the “negotiating theatre” of Mr Johnson’s threat to walk out of talks earlier this month.

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