Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden share first phone call since inauguration

23 January 2021, 20:50 | Updated: 23 January 2021, 21:59

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have spoken for the first time since the inauguration
Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have spoken for the first time since the inauguration. Picture: Boris Johnson

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has said it was "great to speak" to the new US President Joe Biden, after the two world leaders shared their first phone call since Biden's inauguration.

The UK Prime Minister took to social media to share news of their contact, sharing a picture of him on the phone in his Downing Street office.

It is believed Mr Johnson is the first European leader to speak to President Biden.

He tweeted: Great to speak to President @JoeBiden this evening. I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from COVID-19."

Mr Johnson previously called Biden to congratulate him on winning the election in November, but this is understood to be their first contact since he was officially sworn in to lead the United States.

President Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, something which Mr Johnson was a "step forward" for the US after a "bumpy period".

A No 10 spokesman said they had also discussed the potential benefits of a free trade deal, with the Prime Minister reiterating his intention to resolve the outstanding issues as soon as possible.

"The Prime Minister praised President Biden's early action on tackling climate change and commitment to reach net zero by 2050," the spokesman said.

"Building on the UK and US' long history of cooperation in security and defence, the leaders re-committed to the NATO alliance and our shared values in promoting human rights and protecting democracy.

"The leaders looked forward to meeting in person as soon as the circumstances allow, and to working together through the G7, G20 and Cop26 this year."

Joe Biden says 'democracy has prevailed' after being sworn in as President

Joe Biden was sworn in as US President on Wednesday
Joe Biden was sworn in as US President on Wednesday. Picture: PA

There will be some relief in Downing Street at the early call amid concerns about the way Mr Johnson's perceived closeness to Mr Trump would be seen by the new administration.

The Prime Minister is regarded with deep suspicion by some senior Democrats around Mr Biden who - unlike the former president - was no fan of Brexit.

Many were offended by his sideswipe at the "part-Kenyan" Barack Obama during the 2016 EU referendum campaign, while Mr Biden once described him as a "physical and emotional clone" of Mr Trump.

Following the inauguration, No 10 sought to play down Mr Biden's decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office - even though Mr Johnson had criticised Mr Obama when he did the same thing.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The Oval Office is the president's private office and it's up to the president to decorate it as he wishes.

"We're in no doubt of the importance that President Biden places on the UK and US relationship and the Prime Minister looks forward to having a close relationship with him."