Boris Johnson faces a tough task building a ‘special relationship’ with President-elect Joe Biden, with the prime minister’s history of controversial comments set to come back and bite him.
Last night, Johnson tweeted his congratulations to Biden and Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, for taking the reins of “our most important ally”, urging them to work “closely together” on climate change and “trade and security”.
But the prime minister’s remarks did not wash with the victorious Biden campaign, with one of his team accusing Johnson of making “racist comments” in the past – likening him to Donald Trump.
“They do not think Boris Johnson is an ally,” a Democratic source told the Sunday Times. “They think Britain is an ally. But there will be no special relationship with Boris Johnson.”
The paper also quotes a senior US politician who is expected to take a job in Biden’s administration as saying: “If you think Joe hates him, you should hear Kamala.”
Biden’s enmity towards Johnson dates from comments made by the then-London mayor during the Brexit referendum, when he wrote that Obama’s decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office was a “symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire”.
Former Obama press aide Tommy Vietor responded to Johnson’s congratulatory message last night by calling him a “shapeshifting creep”, adding: “We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump.”
The Democratic source told the Sunday Times: “Biden’s got a long memory and Boris is not in his good books. Biden and Obama are like family.
“Many of the people around Biden have been talking about Boris Johnson. The Kenyan remark has never gone away. They see Boris and [Dominic] Cummings like Trump and Bannon.”
People close to Biden have reportedly argued that Johnson should receive the cold shoulder when the president-elect takes office.
In a TV address on Friday, Biden stressed that tackling “systemic racism” as one of his top priorities – with the campaign reportedly “shocked” at the “dismissiveness of black rights” in Johnson’s inner circle.
Particular ire was directed at Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, who called Black Lives Matters protestors taking the knee “a symbol of subjugation and subordination” and said he would kneel only before the Queen or when he was proposing to his wife.