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You are here: Home Focus Joe Biden's election win raises questions for Boris Johnson at crucial stages of Brexit negotiations

Joe Biden's election win raises questions for Boris Johnson at crucial stages of Brexit negotiations

25 November 2020, 17:27 CET

Boris Johnson was committed to 'getting Brexit done' before he even stepped into office, so the pressure is really on the British prime minister to deliver for the 52% that voted leave in 2016.

There have been many twists and turns since Johnson took charge in July 2019, and the election win for Joe Biden adds another complicated layer to an already hectic story of Johnson's premiership.

It has been a bumpy start to life in Downing Street for Johnson with Brexit negotiations to deal with, and he now must adjust to another change as Biden assumes office. It was an ugly presidential contest, and political betting markets suggest that Donald Trump won't even attend Biden's inauguration. Ultimately though, Biden won, and he does not share Trump's outwardly pro-Brexit opinions, which raises new issues for Johnson to contend with.

Some outlets have even claimed that Britain may now be at the 'back of the queue' for a trade deal with the United State of America, with experts claiming that Biden may prioritise repairing the USA's relationship with the European Union and its individual member states. Biden is said to have warned Johnson about reneging on any promises made to the Republic of Ireland, and on risking the Good Friday Agreement in any way at all.

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Johnson's inner circle has been heavily populated by those plucked from the Vote Leave campaign, but the departure of advisor Dominic Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain suggests that there are significant issues still to be ironed out before deciding how to approach the crunch Brexit talks. A recent report from the Financial Times quoted government sources as saying that Johnson was still to decide whether no-deal was truly an option, saying: "To tell you the truth, we don't know — and frankly, I don't think the prime minister knows either."

Great Britain has attempted to project a message of progress in recent weeks, for instance announcing an interim trade deal with Canada, with talks on a more permanent deal scheduled for 2021. Ultimately though, the hard work of a trade deal with the European Union and the United States of America remains very much in the balance.

Get ready for Brexit - Photo by Habib Ayoade on Unsplash

Talks between Britain and Michel Barnier's team were delayed and time is something that Johnson can ill-afford to lose at the moment. Key sticking points remain surrounding fishing grounds and other contentious points, and the baying calls from sections of the British media for Johnson to out-negotiate the EU makes for a frayed atmosphere in the country.

Striking a deal is a complicated scenario, but patience is thin, and Biden's election makes the situation in Ireland even more acute for Johnson. He can afford no slip-ups now, with Brexiteers and remainers alike watching his every move to see how he copes. The only certainty now is that there is no chance that the next few months will pass by without any drama. What happens next is anyone's guess.

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