Downing Street insists Boris Johnson would have a ‘strong relationship’ with any US president after Mark Sedwill claims the PM did not want Donald Trump to win a second term and Tories suspect No10 is trying to win over Joe Biden
- Mark Sedwill said people are ‘mistaken’ if they believe PM wanted Trump to win
- Lord Sedwill said second term ‘would not have been to the benefit’ of Britain
- Said Joe Biden’s victory will have brought ‘relief’ to leaders of Western nations
Downing Street today insisted Boris Johnson would have a ‘strong relationship’ with whoever occupies the White House after Mark Sedwill claimed the PM did not want Donald Trump to win a second term.
Lord Sedwill, the former head of the UK civil service, said people who believe Mr Johnson would have preferred a victory by Mr Trump at the US presidential election last November are ‘mistaken’.
Many Tories believe the intervention by Lord Sedwill could prove to be helpful as Number 10 tries to win over Joe Biden.
Some believe the comments could be an attempt to ‘ingratiate’ Downing Street with Mr Biden’s team or to ‘create bad blood’ with Mr Trump as Britain seeks to build a strong relationship with the new President.
The claim prompted ridicule from Labour MPs as they said ‘we are all fully aware of Boris Johnson’s admiration for Donald Trump’.
Asked whether Lord Sedwill’s assessment was correct, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister will have a strong relationship with whoever was in the White House.
‘That was the case with President Trump and that’ll be the case with President Biden.’
Lord Sedwill, who served as Cabinet Secretary from 2018 to 2020, wrote in the Daily Mail that another stint in the White House for Mr Trump ‘would not have been to the benefit of British or European security (or) to transatlantic trade, let alone the environmental agenda to which the Prime Minister is so committed’.
He said Mr Biden’s victory brought ‘relief’ to Western leaders that ‘normal diplomatic relationships will be restored’ after his inauguration tomorrow.
Mark Sedwill, pictured with Boris Johnson on the day he became Prime Minister, said people are ‘mistaken’ if they believe the premier would have preferred Donald Trump to win a second term
Lord Sedwill said a victory for Mr Trump last November ‘would not have been to the benefit of British or European security (or) to transatlantic trade, let alone the environmental agenda to which the Prime Minister is so committed’
Lord Sedwill said: ‘Those of us who regard ourselves as close American allies have badly missed US leadership over the past four years.
‘Mr Biden’s administration will reset priorities much more in line with those of his former boss, Barack Obama.
‘He will re-engage with democracies and global institutions – such as the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation – that Mr Trump despised and disrupted.
‘He will revive arms control negotiations with Iran and Russia, and rejoin the Paris treaty, which is crucial to the prospects for this year’s climate change conference in Glasgow.
‘With Brexit accomplished and the Biden administration ready to re-engage, this is the moment for ‘Global Britain’ to step up to that challenge.’
He added: ‘Based on my time working for Boris Johnson in Downing Street, I believe those who have said he would have preferred a second Trump term are mistaken.
‘That would not have been to the benefit of British or European security, to transatlantic trade, let alone the environmental agenda to which the Prime Minister is so committed.’
Labour MP Barry Sheerman said it was a ‘curious intervention’ by Lord Sedwill ‘attempting to deny Boris Johnson’s close affinity to Donald Trump’.
He tweeted: ‘We are all fully aware of Boris Johnson’s admiration for Donald Trump he will struggle to convince Joe Biden!’
He added: ‘Much laughing in Biden camp as they hear that Boris Johnson is now Joe’s new best friend!’
Another Labour MP told MailOnline: ‘It is difficult to believe that since Boris publicly argued that Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize and he has repeatedly used the Trump playbook.’
One Tory MP said Lord Sedwill’s comments could be an attempt to ‘ingratiate’ Number 10 with Mr Biden’s team or ‘it could also be done to create bad blood with the former president’.
Mr Johnson was among the first world leaders to secure a call with Mr Biden following his election victory, with the Prime Minister telling PMQs in November: ‘It was refreshing, I may say, to have that conversation and I look forward to many more.’
Since Mr Biden’s election, there have been concerns the pair could face diplomatic difficulties.
They have never met before and Mr Biden has previously likened the Prime Minister to a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of Mr Trump.
Mr Johnson has gone to many efforts not to criticise Mr Trump during his leadership.
Lord Sedwill said Joe Biden’s victory last November brought ‘relief’ to Western leaders
However, he has been more vocal in recent weeks, rebuking Mr Trump for inciting supporters to storm the Capitol and for continuing to question the legitimacy of the US election.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on January 7: ‘Insofar as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol and insofar as the president consistently has cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election I believe that that was completely wrong.’
Earlier this month he defended his relationship with Mr Trump, insisting the UK prime minister should always have the ‘best possible’ ties with the sitting US president.
He told the Liaison Committee: ‘I am in favour of the Prime Minister of the UK having the best possible relationship with the President of the United States and I had an excellent conversation very recently with president-elect Joe Biden.’
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