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The Lockdown Sessions: George Osborne and Philip Collins debate what to expect from Joe Biden’s presidency

Jack Kessler and Radhika Aligh
·2-min read
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After four years of Twitter tantrums, conspiracy theories and – according to one fact checker – 30,000 lies, Donald Trump is set to leave office on Wednesday.

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, to the relief of at least half of America and much of the rest of the world.

Expect a return to rationality and science - and a president who does not suggest his citizens inject themselves with bleach.

“You’re not going to have a president telling you to inject yourself with some unknown drug or pretend the virus doesn’t exist. It will feel extraordinary because it’ll be very normal and ordinary.”

That is the view of the Evening Standard’s editor-in-chief and former Chancellor George Osborne, who spoke with columnist Phil Collins about Wednesday’s inauguration, and what Biden’s America might look like.

The conversation is part of our new series – The Lockdown Sessions.

In a wide-ranging conversation, they discuss the sky-high expectations presidents face for their inaugural addresses, for which Osborne blames Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy, as well as the heaving inbox that the Biden-Harris administration will inherit.

They also debate American foreign policy under Biden and warn that Donald Trump's 'America First' policy was not some aberration but standard form in America’s oscillation between engagement and isolationism over the last 100 years.

Osborne and Collins also turn to the subject of the Biden-Johnson relationship, which may prove to be less close than Churchill-Roosevelt or Thatcher-Reagan.

Trump called Johnson “Britain Trump”, and the Biden team views Brexit, for which the Prime Minister was a fervent supporter, as an historic mistake.

Osborne says: “The central challenge Johnson faces is, in the eyes of the Democrats, he is part of the Trump family. That might be unfair, but nevertheless, he’s seen by the rest of the world as being in that nativist populist movement.”

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