New dawn for special relationship with US: Boris Johnson insists it’s the best for decades

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Buoyed by the recent multi-billion pound nuclear submarine pact, Aukus, between both nations and Australia, the Prime Minister believes the transatlantic “special relationship” is back on track after a rocky period. And he says his personal relationship with Mr Biden is “genuinely terrific” despite the Democrat previously having described the PM as a “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump”.

Mr Johnson hopes to use the summit to mend fences following the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and to also embolden their shared ambition of tackling climate change.

But hopes of a breakthrough on a bumper UK/US trade deal will have to be put on the backburner with Mr Johnson indicating it will “take a back seat” in their talks.

The two men appeared to strike up a decent working relationship during the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, but the PM is said to have felt let down over the rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, which saw the Taliban seize power.

At the height of the crisis, he was unable to secure a call to Mr Biden.

Speaking before today’s meeting, Mr Johnson said: “Our relations with the USA are about as good as they have been at any time in decades. When we last flew out a couple of years ago we had all sorts of pebbles in the shoe. But I can tell you today we’ve got the British beef ban lifted.

We see eye to eye on all sorts of things

Boris Johnson

“British beef is being exported to the United States. We’ve lifted the tariffs on whisky to the United States.

“We’ve sorted out the Boeing-Airbus dispute that bedevilled our relations for many years.

“And we’ve launched a historic pact, with our Australian friends as well, which will enable the UK and US to share technology, to develop a defence technology partnership and more, for decades ahead.”

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On his personal relationship with Mr Biden, he added: “You know, it hasn’t been a relationship that’s been very long in gestation. But it’s terrific, I mean genuinely terrific.

“We see eye to eye on all sorts of things. Have we bonded over any particular thing?

“He’s a bit of a train nut, as am I. He likes trains which is a good thing.”

Mr Johnson said he wants a free trade agreement that “really works for the UK rather than get a quick deal. We want to do it, but what we want is a good FTA, a great FTA”.

Mr Johnson and Mr Biden are also expected to discuss Northern Ireland.

British sources fear the US President is siding with the EU over post-Brexit trade checks that are threatening to destabilise the province.

Senior officials in the Biden administration have suggested that failure to resolve the problems in Northern Ireland could damage the prospects for a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries.

The talks were well advanced under Mr Trump’s presidency but appear to have been placed on the backburner in recent months.

Mr Johnson will meet Congressional leaders this week to discuss Brexit and trade.

And he will also meet Australian prime minister Scott Morrison in Washington. The leaders will discuss Aukus, trade and Covid over dinner.

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