Boris Johnson on US tour joking but not much news

LONDON – He challenges the world to grow and meet the challenges of climate change. He mocked France’s nervous reaction to Britain and the United States pulling out of an underwater deal with Australia. It also removes confusion about how many children there are (six).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson halted a colorful trip from New York to Washington this week, taking an intercity trip on Amtrak – thanks to his loyal Amtrak host, President Biden – and calling the suffering French “suddenly relentless”. “Before you say it. Grip” and “Donez-moi un break”.

For Americans now accustomed to presidents who rarely deviate from the script, it’s a reminder of the time their leader appeared in Britain and began promoting the evil bomb. . Donald J. Except in the case of Trump, who called the Mayor of London a “rock loser” and told British tabloids that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, had poor negotiations for a Brexit deal.

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Mr. Johnson has always been a friendly, energetic person, journalist, politician, who often uses humor at his own expense to raise serious issues. What is less clear after a five-day visit that has shown signs of an entertaining and troubled “special relationship” is how the Prime Minister’s carefree style will propel Britain to play a role on the world stage after Brexit. increase.

“This is both an advantage and a problem for Boris Johnson,” said Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair. “The first time you meet him, he has a lot of fun. But the problem as a comedian is that you don’t take yourself seriously. That’s why we weren’t consulted about Afghanistan. ”

Britain’s entry into the nuclear-submarine alliance with Australia and the United States was a remarkable victory for Johnson, demonstrating the importance that Britain and the White House had for ignoring British views on strategy or a timely troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. compensation. .

However, it is a glimmer of hope in mixed transatlantic relations. On a trip to New York, Johnson told reporters that Biden was not interested in negotiating a trade deal between the United States and Britain because there was “a lot of fish to fry”. Unsurprisingly, his admission effectively buried one of Brexit’s main selling points: it would allow Britain to sign its own lucrative trade deal with the United States.

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Days after Johnson sat next to him in the Oval Office, Biden also indicated he would oppose British actions that threaten peace in Northern Ireland. Britain has pledged to end a post-Brexit trade deal with North Korea, a process that critics say could jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement that sparked decades of sectarian violence there.

British officials said Northern Ireland did not participate in their face-to-face meeting, which one official described as “very hot”. Biden’s public mention is a reminder that the issue has political resonance in Washington and therefore has the potential to disrupt London-Washington relations.

The prospect of a bilateral trade agreement can now be replaced by stronger expectations.

British newspapers reported that the Johnson administration was now considering signing a revised North American free trade agreement that Trump had negotiated with Canada and Mexico. Since the UK already has deals with both countries, this will be a backdoor deal with the US.

Trade analysts were baffled and found that doing so would save both sides from the political peril of trade negotiations. Moreover, the language in this deal, known as the US-Mexico-Canada deal, according to these experts, would be detrimental to British automakers looking to export to the US.

“Anything that complicates a bilateral agreement will complicate the USMCA,” said Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London. “We’re still talking about chlorinated chicken,” he said, citing the controversy over access to chemically treated American food.

For Johnson, the complexity of the trade deal is less than the win it makes in the short term. Ahead of his visit, the White House lifted restrictions on travelers from Britain, the European Union and other countries that have been a frightening source of tension in the Atlantic.

Johnson is also proud of the Underwater Alliance, which not only makes Britain a key US ally in the geopolitical battle with China, but also has the political advantage to anger Britain’s neighbour, France.

Outside the Capitol, Johnson stepped on the cheerful fringes of mocking France in what he believed was an overreaction to Australia’s decision to scrap a $66 billion deal on non-nuclear submarines.

In an interview with NBC News, “Donez-moi un break” became a social media classic competing for a moment, with Mr Johnson admitting to having six children. The exact number has long been shrouded in mystery: he’s been divorced twice, had a daughter through infidelity, and has survived previous attempts to tease him about the role of fatherhood.

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Johnson’s veteran observer notes that he’s used the useless version of “Give Me a Break” at least eight times since March 1994 when he used it in an article about house prices. permanent. Some critics said this was unnecessarily provocative for France and caused laughter in a country that has too many options to settle with Britain.

“We enjoyed it when France warmed up under the collar,” said Powell. “But it has a long-term price.”

At the United Nations, where Mr. Johnson is not yet known as a world leader, he uses a mix of branded charm and self-destruction. He told reporters that as a journalist, he underestimated the threat of a hotter planet. Speaking to the General Assembly in November hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Johnson took on the role of a faithful but firm parent.

“We still cling to a part of our consciousness with the child’s belief that the world was made for our satisfaction and pleasure,” Johnson said of his good past. I can. “And we associate this narcissism with our idea of ​​immortality.

“We believe other people will fix the mess because other people always do,” he said. “My friends, the youth of mankind is coming to an end and must end.”