| 15.1°C Dublin

Biden's stance against Brexit could bring a new dynamic to UK's departure


Frontrunner Joe Biden. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Frontrunner Joe Biden. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP


Frontrunner Joe Biden. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

The day after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Joe Biden approached a microphone in Dublin and spoke in a sombre voice.

"I must say, we had looked for a different outcome," the then US vice-president said, not hiding his disappointment. "We'd have preferred a different outcome."

That afternoon he criticised "reactionary politicians and demagogues peddling xenophobia, nationalism and isolationism" being seen in the world, including Europe.

The tone, one of regret and concern, was a stark contrast to that of Boris Johnson, who a few hundred kilometres away hailed the "wonderful opportunity" he had helped bring about. The two men's opposing views of Brexit have been of little significance in the years since June 2016, with Mr Biden leaving the political frontline shortly after the referendum.

But no longer. Mr Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has a double-digit lead in nationwide polls over Donald Trump ahead of the US election.

Many of Mr Biden's foreign policy stances are closer to those of the prime minister than the ones adopted by Mr Trump, carrying on from his time as Barack Obama's deputy. He supports Nato, talks tough on Russia, believes in the Paris climate change agreement and was a firm believer in the Iran nuclear deal.

But on Brexit, the opposite is true. Mr Trump supported Britain leaving the EU before the vote and wants a major trade deal. Mr Biden did not and his views on a deal are unclear.

The picture emerging is one of a seasoned foreign policy hand whose opposition to Brexit and deeply-felt Irish heritage could shape thinking while pursuing the twin ambitions of maintaining close ties with Britain and rebuilding links to the EU.

Speaking in London in October 2018, Mr Biden again made clear his disapproval of Brexit.

"Had I been an MP, had I been a British citizen, I would've voted against leaving," Mr Biden said at an event with the think-tank Chatham House.

Mr Biden stressed the depth and strength of UK-US ties, but also suggested America was left damaged by the move.

The extent of past interactions between Mr Biden and Mr Johnson are unclear, but the little said on the record by the former about his potential counterpart is not complimentary. It is just four months before US voters decide whether to make President Biden a reality. If they do, Mr Trump will be replaced by something very different. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent