Matt Dunham / AP
With Joe Biden taking the lead in polls, many in Europe are wondering what US foreign policy might look like if the former vice president wins the White House.
If President Trump is defeated in Tuesday’s election, a regional loser could be British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump’s closest ally in Europe. While Trump routinely defames other European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, he prefers Johnson, who, like Trump, is seen as a popular performer drug.
“He’s a good man,” Trump said of Johnson last year. “He’s a friend of mine.”
More notably, Trump has endorsed Johnson’s two main policy priorities: Brexit and a free trade deal with the US, the world’s largest economy.
But Biden, who opposes Brexit, will have other priorities if he becomes president. Unlike Trump, Biden values transatlantic relations with Europe and hopes to rebuild ones with allies like Germany and France that Trump outraged and alienated.
Over the past four years, Trump has viewed some NATO countries as stalkers for not spending enough on defense, and he calls the European Union “enemies”.
The fence patching could take Biden some time and would delay Britain reaching a trade deal with the US until 2022 or beyond.
Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group, a risk management firm, said: “The deal’s symbolic importance and value cannot be overstated. “The full legality and credibility of Brexit to a certain extent depends on the government’s ability to reach an agreement with the US”
A Biden’s presidency would also put more pressure on Johnson to give up his threat of a no-deal Brexit and sign a trade deal with the European Union. The UK is in a transition Brexit which will expire later this year. Biden, of Irish descent, warned Johnson not to disrupt negotiations with the EU or do anything that could undermine the 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement.
“Joe Biden’s stake and personal role in this is absolutely crucial in forcing a relocation of Downing Street relative to the EU in those negotiations,” Rahman said.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has deeply damaged the UK economy, also made it harder and more costly for Johnson to continue to threaten a no-deal Brexit.
While Biden’s presidency may pose a challenge to the Johnson administration, the two governments will likely find common ground in issues including combating climate change and managing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. .
And there could be another obvious growth.
“Downing Street sees dealing with Trump as a nightmare,” Rahman said. “He was unpredictable, hard to work with, making the government life on a variety of multilateral issues very difficult to navigate.”
NPR London producer Jessica Beck contributed to this report.