Boris Johnson Calls The US-UK Bond An “Indestructible Relationship”
Boris Johnson said he wants to ditch the 'special relationship' tag and call it the 'indestructible relationship' instead (Alamy)
Boris Johnson has called for the bond between the UK and America to be re-named the “indestructible relationship” after confirming he doesn’t favour the term “special relationship”.
But after meeting with the US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall yesterday it appears Biden is yet to adopt the Prime Minister’s preferred parlance.
Accompanied by a picture with his hand placed paternally on Johnson's shoulder, Biden tweeted: “The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is stronger than ever. Thank you for hosting me today, Prime Minister Johnson.”
Speaking to the BBC last night after a bilateral meeting with Biden, the first time the pair have come face-to-face since Biden was elected as US president last November, the PM admitted preferring alternatives to the phrase “special relationship”, after a profile in the Atlantic claimed he found it “needy and weak”.
Asked what he would call it instead, Johnson offered two alternatives, including "deep and meaningful relationship" and "indestructible relationship".
"It's a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world." he added.
But Johnson did acknowledge the value of the term "special relationship", with which people are already so familiar.
"It encompasses a reality which is that the UK and the US have a real congruence of views on some stuff that really matters to the world," he said.
Johnson said it reflected that both the UK and US believe "in democracy, we believe in human rights, we believe in the rules based international order, we believe in the transatlantic alliance".
Johnson described the meeting with Biden, which last for more than an hour, as “terrific” and said they “covered about 25 subjects in some detail”.
But the summit in Carbis Bay was at risk of being overshadowed by a row over the Northern Ireland protocol, and how the Brexit withdrawal agreement is being implemented.
Dubbed the “sausage war” due to anger over restrictions for businesses exporting chilled meats between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which the UK agreed to when the Brexit deal was signed, Biden is said to be worried the issue may damage the peace process.
With America being a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, and the President’s close links with Ireland, it was expected to be a source of tension at the meeting with Johnson.
The PM played down any discord. “Everybody, and that includes me, it includes our friends in Brussels, it includes Washington, everybody has a massive interest in making sure that we keep the essential symmetry of the Good Friday Agreement, we keep the balance,” he told the BBC.
Instead he criticised the EU for the way the protocol, agreed to by the UK, which deals with how trade is done in Northern Ireland, as it remains part of the single market as well as the United Kingdom.
“You will understand that there are ways of enforcing the protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome,” he said.
“I just give you one statistic: 20% of the checks conducted across the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland, three times as many as happen in Rotterdam.”
He said he thought the issue would be worked out before the a grace period runs out at the end of June, but French president Emmanuel Macron warned he would veto any attempt to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.
Ahead of his arrival today at the G7 he said: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.
“This is not an issue between the UK and France, it is an issue between Europeans and the UK.
“We have a protocol under which there is this Northern Ireland protocol and we have a trade deal. It has been painfully discussed for years, and discussed, let me remind you, on the initiative of the British who decided to leave.”