Boris Johnson hailed Joe Biden as ‘a breath of fresh air’ last night as the two men met in Cornwall.
The Prime Minister, the new US President and their families bonded with a display of extraordinary warmth on their first ever meeting.
Despite fears of a diplomatic row over Northern Ireland, any political anxieties appeared to melt away in the Cornish sea breeze as the two men hit it off in remarkable style at the beach resort where the G7 summit will be held today.
Baby Wilfred even played his part, helping Mr Johnson’s new wife Carrie, 33, to form an apparently instant bond with US First Lady Jill Biden, 70.
The Prime Minister, the new US President and their families bonded with a display of extraordinary warmth on their first ever meeting
The two couples met amid tensions over Northern Ireland
The two women had their plans for a tour of the historic St Michael’s Mount disrupted by a sea mizzle. But instead they gathered up the Prime Minister’s one-year-old son and went for a paddle on the beach at Carbis Bay where the gathering of the world’s most powerful democracies is being held.
Mrs Johnson, who wore a striking £260 red dress from LK Bennett, later commented on Instagram: ‘Wonderful to spend some time with First Lady at Carbis Bay. We even dipped our toes into the water. Beautiful but freezing.’ Mrs Biden underlined the feelgood atmosphere of the meeting by wearing a jacket emblazoned with the word ‘Love’.
The First Lady told reporters: ‘We’re bringing love from America. I think that this is a global conference and we’re trying to bring unity across the globe and I think that’s important right now that you have a sense of unity.’
And after the two families met for the first time, President Biden, 78, immediately punctured any tension by joking to Mr Johnson: ‘We both married way above our stations.’ The Prime Minister, 56 – who tied the knot with Carrie less than a fortnight ago – replied: ‘I’m not going to dissent on that one. I’m not going to disagree with you there or indeed on anything else.’
Despite fears of a diplomatic row over Northern Ireland, any political anxieties appeared to melt away in the Cornish sea breeze as the two men hit it off in remarkable style at the beach resort where the G7 summit will be held today
As well as the first face-to-face talks between the Prime Minister and the US President, the G7 summit will bring together the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies for the next three days to discuss Covid, climate change and the need to protect democracy in an increasingly dangerous world.
Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga are among the world leaders who will fly in to Newquay Airport for today’s summit, which is being held amid tight security and extensive Covid precautions.
In a sign of the event’s importance, the Queen will host a reception for leaders and their spouses at Cornwall’s Eden Project tonight. Charles, Camilla and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will also attend.
The build-up to the two leaders’ first meeting could scarcely have been less auspicious. During his presidential bid, Mr Biden described Mr Johnson as a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of Donald Trump.
First lady Jill Biden was on message, wearing a jacket with the word ‘Love’ on the back
Baby Wilfred even played his part, helping Mr Johnson’s new wife Carrie, 33, to form an apparently instant bond with US First Lady Jill Biden, 70
President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held their first face-to-face meeting
For his part, Mr Johnson angered senior Democrats by suggesting Barack Obama may have removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office because of his ‘part-Kenyan’ ancestry.
Tensions were ratcheted up on the eve of the meeting after reports emerged that Mr Biden had ordered officials to reprimand the UK for ‘inflaming’ relations with the EU over the implementation of the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland.
Yesterday both men moved to bury the hatchet, with Mr Johnson apparently keen to de-Trump himself. Speaking after talks which overran their one-hour slot by 20 minutes, the PM played up Mr Biden’s enthusiasm for Nato and efforts to tackle climate change – two agendas not shared by Mr Trump. ‘It’s wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and Joe Biden because there’s so much that they want to do together with us – on security, on Nato, to climate change,’ he said. ‘It’s fantastic, it’s a breath of fresh air.’
From left to right: Jill Biden, the president, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie walk along Carbis Bay
US officials said the President had not come to the UK to deliver a ‘lecture’ on Northern Ireland. Mr Johnson said there had been ‘absolutely common ground’ over the need to resolve the situation in the Province – and No 10 even claimed the two leaders had been in ‘complete harmony’ on the issue during their private talks.
The two men signed an updated version of the Atlantic Charter originally agreed by Churchill and Roosevelt in 1941. The new agreement commits the UK and US to helping the West build a united front to take on the challenges posed by China, Russia, climate change and terrorism.
Mr Biden described his meeting with the Prime Minister as ‘very productive’, saying the two men had ‘discussed a broad range of issues on which the UK and US are working in a close relationship’.
He added: ‘We affirmed the special relationship – it’s not said lightly – the special relationship between our people.
‘We renewed our pledge to defend the enduring democratic values that both of our nations share that are the strong foundation of our partnership.’