independent– Joe Biden’s reported pick for the role of America’s top diplomat has referred to Brexit as “a total mess”, raised concerns over its effect on the Good Friday Agreement and compared it to a dog being run over by a car.
Boris Johnson faces a challenge in developing a relationship with Mr Biden as close as he managed with his predecessor — with the president-elect having previously referred to him as the UK premier as the “physical and emotional clone of Trump”.
And his potentially terse relationship with the US leader comes at a time of critical importance for the UK as a trade deal between the two marks a key element of the nation’s post-Brexit plan.
However in a blow for the PM Mr Biden is understood to have chosen Anthony Blinken to serve as his Secretary of State, who last year referred to Brexit as a “total mess”.
In comments made on podcast Pod Save The World — which is hosted by former Obama White House staffers — Mr Blinken depicted the decision to leave the EU as chaotic and self destructive while making clear his view it had not been the preferred choice for the US.
“This is not just the dog that caught the car, this is the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog” he said in 2019 as Theresa May tried and failed to get her deal through the Commons. “It’s a total mess.”
He added that while it was difficult to make the case from the US for the UK to remain in the bloc, Britain’s involvement in the continent had been America’s preferred option.
The viewpoint jars with that of the White House’s outgoing occupant, Mr Trump, who had been a vocal supporter of Brexit throughout his presidency.
“It’s awful tough to walk that line between interfering in someone else’s politics but also standing up for your own interests and our interests clearly would have been in keeping Britain in”, he added. “Whether we could actually put our nose in this in a way that would have an effect and wouldn’t be counterproductive is a pretty tough question.”
It comes after Mr Biden, who was still running for office at the time, offered a terse statement to Mr Johnson over plans to give Downing Street the power to breach international law in a way that could undermine agreements made to keep the peace on the island of Ireland.
The then candidate warned the UK premier that he would not approve any trade deal for a Britain that had achieved its Brexit goals while undermining the Good Friday Agreement — a commitment that was backed up by House leader Nancy Pelosi.
And Mr Blinken appears to hold the same view. Asked in the 2019 podcast if the Good Friday Agreement was possible without the EU, he said: “It’s certainly a heck of a lot tougher”, adding “I think it’s a lot harder without the EU and of course no one wants to go back to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
More recently Mr Blinken said the incoming president was “committed to preserving the hard-earned peace & stability in Northern Ireland.
“As the UK and EU work out their relationship, any arrangements must protect the Good Friday Agreement and prevent the return of a hard border.” he added.