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Boris Johnson woos Joe Biden with plans to be ‘problem-solving partner’ on environment and health

Joe Murphy
·3-min read
<p>Boris Johnson led a special discussion at Cabinet on how the UK can exercise 'international leadership in the year ahead’</p> (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson led a special discussion at Cabinet on how the UK can exercise 'international leadership in the year ahead’

(Getty Images)

Boris Johnson today put the environment at the heart of a new strategy to reset Britain’s global role for the era of Joe Biden and Brexit.

He told Cabinet ministers that Global Britain will be a “pragmatic and problem-solving partner” on the world stage.

And he spelled out that his priorities were to take leading roles on issues like health, climate change and and nature.

The Prime Minister led a special discussion at Cabinet on how the UK can exercise “international leadership in the year ahead”, starting with a G7 summit in Cornwall and preparations for hosting the Cop 26 climate change talks in the autumn.

“The Prime Minster explained that as the world heads out of the pandemic the UK has an enormous opportunity to take much needed action to support and influence the global recovery in order to build back better, both domestically and internationally.”

The phrase “build back better” is one that incoming US president Mr Biden used in his election campaign and makes clear that the Johnson team see this as common ground to be exploited.

“The Prime Minister concluded cabinet by explaining that taking a lead on crucial areas such as health, prosperity, climate and nature, we can showcase what a post Brexit Global Britain looks like - a strong steward of the international system and a pragmatic and problem-solving partner on the world stage,” said his official spokesman.

Alok Sharma, the former Business Secretary appointed to run the Cop 26 summit, briefed Cabinet on the plans, set out “the government's desire to play a leading role in ensuring we tackle climate change globally”.

Mr Sharma pointed to the UK’s net zero targets and the Prime Minister's own 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution ”as the measure of our ambition”.

The words will be keenly analysed around the world for clues as to how Britain will behave outside the European Union.

There have been concerns among many MPs and ministers that Britain lost a major reason for its high international influence when it left the European Union. In particular there are fears that the White House, which has used London as a route to sway the EU, will look elsewhere.

Some critics have claimed the Biden administration will be hostile, partly because of Downing Street’s past relations with Donald Trump and Mr Johnson’s comments about Barack Obama during the Brexit referendum.

These worries are not shared by Mr Johnson’s inner circle, however, which is confident that the US will continue to see the UK as one of its most reliable partners.

Mr Sharma, who will be chair the UN Cop26 summit due to be staged at Glasgow in November, said Mr Biden’s presidency is “good news” for climate change policies.

He told the Commons business committee: "A Biden presidency is good news in terms of tackling climate change. I very much welcome the commitments the president-elect has already made in terms of rejoining the Paris agreement and putting the US on the path to net zero by 2050.

"I’m very positive about the commitments made during the presidential election and we are looking forward to working closely with the new administration."

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