British PM Boris Johnson speaks to US President-elect Joe Biden, discusses Covid-19 and climate change

Johnson (left) and Biden discussed the longstanding relationship between Britain and the US.
Johnson (left) and Biden discussed the longstanding relationship between Britain and the US.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he spoke to US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday (Nov 10) about working together on tackling climate change and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnson has predicted close ties with the United States under Biden, seeing common ground on issues like climate change even though the President-elect has aired concerns about his Brexit policy.

“I just spoke to @JoeBiden to congratulate him on his election,” Johnson said in a tweet.

“I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities – from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.”

Johnson has never met Biden and commentators have suggested he will have to work hard to foster the so-called “special relationship” between the historical allies.

After the call, Johnson’s office said the prime minister had invited Biden to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow next year.

It said Johnson and Biden committed to build their countries’ partnership in areas such as trade and security – including through the Nato defence alliance.

There was no reference to any discussion of Brexit on the call. Johnson’s government is seeking a trade deal with the European Union but has said it is willing to walk away without one.

Johnson has put forward legislation that would break the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit divorce treaty that seeks to avoid a physical customs border between the British province and EU-member Ireland.

That prompted a warning from Biden, who has talked about the importance of his Irish heritage, that the United Kingdom must honour Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement as it withdraws from the bloc or there can be no separate US trade deal.