Brexit row: Joe Biden ‘poised to favour Ireland over UK after election’
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Democratic candidate Joe Biden is climbing up the polls to take the lead over the incumbent President, Donald Trump, who is running again this year for the Republican Party. The Government — under both Theresa May and Boris Johnson — has attempted to strengthen the “special relationship” between the UK and the US during Mr Trump’s time in office. Talks of a trade deal with the US after Brexit have been mentioned regularly, as Britain looks to build up its global commerce.
However, Mr Biden has been vocal in his opposition to Brexit in the past so his potential election is reportedly leaving Westminster “unsettled”.
London correspondent Mark Landler explained at the end of July that “Mr Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Brexit has made the US a safe harbour”.
He continued: “His promise of a lucrative trade deal gave Mr Johnson a selling point with his voters.”
However, his rival Mr Biden would “look out for the interests of Ireland in a post-Brexit Europe, and would have little motive to prioritise an Anglo-American trade deal”, according to the commentator.
The senator is a keen Irish-American and has allies in the Democratic Party’s Irish lobby.
While the Democratic candidate does have English heritage too, he is more likely to focus on maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama once said that the UK would be at the “back of the queue” in any trade talks with the US, if it voted to leave the EU.
As the former vice president to President Barack Obama, Mr Biden is likely to follow a similar line.
A former British ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, also told the New York Times: “It will not be lost on Biden that the last two British prime ministers [Theresa May and Boris Johnson] went out of their way to be nice to and about Trump.
“He is instinctively comfortable with Brits, but London will have to work on the relationship.”
He added: “If the UK ends up with a no deal or other Brexit outcome which is bad news for Ireland he will not be impressed.”
Ireland has been an area of concern for many during the Brexit negotiations.
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Any hard border between Northern Ireland, which is set to officially leave the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, set to remain in the bloc, caused concern violence could return to the area.
Yet, Mr Johnson addressed the problems head on last year with the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and came up with the Northern Ireland Protocol, where a border would be placed down the Irish Sea instead.
Others suggest that Mr Biden could be a better partner for the UK post-Brexit than Trump, because he is “a believer in alliances”.
Indeed, according to Tim Shipman in The Sunday Times last month, a Government minister admitted that a Trump defeat “would make things much easier” for Westminster.
The New York Times also suggested that it is not “a sudden rupture but a gradual slide into irrelevance” that could pose a problem for the UK if relations with the US deteriorate.
The danger would come if Mr Biden’s focus fell on the rest of Europe rather than the “special relationship” with the UK.
Mr Biden said during a visit to the UK in 2018: “Had I been a Member of Parliament, had I been a British citizen, I would have voted against leaving.
“US interests are diminished with Great Britain not an integral part of Europe.”
Mr Johnson has not commented on the US presidential race so far — even though Mr Trump gave his vocal support to the Conservatives when he called into a radio show during the general election in December.
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