Boris Johnson has hailed the UK’s “indestructible relationship” with the US as he kicks off today’s G7 summit in a blaze of friendly diplomacy with Joe Biden.
The Prime Minister brushed off a private rebuke from US diplomats that accused him of “inflaming” tensions in Northern Ireland after Brexit.
He claimed the President didn’t say “anything of the kind” in their first meeting yesterday – and boasted: “You can call it the 'deep and meaningful relationship', whatever you want, the 'indestructible relationship’.”
But despite his claims, the Prime Minister faces a major showdown over Brexit at this weekend’s summit – after a damning rebuke from Emmanuel Macron.
The French President, who jets in to Cornwall for the G7 this afternoon, accused Johnson of being “not serious towards our people” in his approach to the spat.
Boris Johnson is threatening to break his own Brexit pact and extend a six-month “grace period” that allows sausages to be moved from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson is threatening to break his own Brexit pact and extend a six-month “grace period”
He's got away with it so far but the issue could become a problem at the G7 summit
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
The PM today attacked the EU for being “excessively burdensome” in enforcing the rules – and said sausage trade within the UK’s borders should not be banned
But his approach has prompted anger from the EU and US – because he signed up to the rules himself as part of his so-called ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal.
Northern Ireland has to follow some EU rules in exchange for avoiding a hard border with the Republic – and that includes a total ban on sausages.
A top US diplomat issued a rare “demarche”, used more for rivals than allies, to the UK over the situation, the Times revealed yesterday.
The US later tried to cool tensions, with an official insisting the order had not come from President Biden personally despite the Times reporting otherwise.
But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel – who both attend the G7 – are set to raise the spat this weekend.
Ms von der Leyen last night insisted the Protocol is the "only solution" to prevent a hard border with the Republic and must be implemented in full.
"We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the Protocol and the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement have to be implemented completely," she said.
And France’s President Macron said last night, according to Politico: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised in December after years of work.
“It’s not serious between us and it’s not serious towards our people.”
“It’s not serious between us and it’s not serious towards our people," said Emmanuel Macron
(Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
He added: ”I believe in the strength of treaties, I believe in serious work, nothing is renegotiable, everything is applicable….
“It has been painfully discussed for years, and discussed, let me remind you, on the initiative of the British who decided to leave."
Asked if Joe Biden had told him to “sort out” the problems in Northern Ireland, Boris Johnson told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “Well, he, no, no, the president didn't say anything of the kind.”
Joe Biden charmed Carrie Johnson yesterday
(Image: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
After a profile revealed he had branded the phrase “special relationship” needy and weak, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “Look I don't mind the phrase 'special relationship' because it is special.
“We also happen to share objectives on tackling climate change and loads of other things.
“So it's a relationship, you can call it the 'deep and meaningful relationship', whatever you want, the, the 'indestructible relationship'.
“It's a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world.”
Elsewhere Mr Johnson revealed President Biden – who lost his first wife and baby daughter in a 1972 car crash – was “extremely sympathetic” to the family of British teenager Harry Dunn.
The US has refused to extradite Anne Sacoolas after she was involved in a crash with the motorcyclist in August 2019.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden with first lady Jill Biden
She has since been charged with causing the death of the teenager by dangerous driving.
Mr Johnson said: “As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue.
“And he was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on.”
. Carrie Johnson, wife of the Prime Minister speaks with First Lady of the United States Dr Jill Biden as Wilfred Johnson sits on the beach
(Image: Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street)
But the PM downplayed any hopes of a breakthrough after attempts to solve the issue were rebuffed by Donald Trump ’s regime.
He said: “I think the difficulty is that there are limits to what the executive can do with the legal, with the judiciary and the legal system, but both sides are working together.”