Connect with us

Published

on

Boris Johnson has scored an early diplomatic win with the UK becoming the first foreign destination for Joe Biden since he became US president. 

But it is more thanks to good timing than the special relationship – a term the prime minister reportedly doesn’t like anyway because he thinks it sounds weak and needy.

As host of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations this year, Britain is providing the platform for world powers to gather for the first time in person since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive on Air Force One at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall. Picture date: Wednesday June 9, 2021.
Image:
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive on Air Force One at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall

It gives Mr Johnson a prime opportunity, before group diplomacy kicks off on Friday, to secure some one-on-one time with Mr Biden and to renew UK-US ties after four turbulent and unpredictable years under Donald Trump.

Yet, despite all the values the two countries share, their deep security ties and long-running friendship, this won’t be all smiles and friendly elbow bumps.

Mr Biden represents a return to a more conventional American leader, unashamedly supportive of trans-Atlantic ties, multilateral organisations and the fundamental importance of democratic values.

But he will unlikely have the same chemistry with the British prime minister as his predecessor did.

More on Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson, with his blonde hair and reputation of a disruptor of the status quo – embodied by Brexit – was sometimes dubbed ‘mini Trump’ – a label that he will be keen to shake as he builds his friendship with the new administration.

Boris Johnson arrives in Cornwall for the G7 summit via private plane. Pic Twitter/@BorisJohnson
Image:
Boris Johnson arrives in Cornwall for the G7 summit via private plane. Pic Twitter/@BorisJohnson

This US president, unlike Mr Trump, is also no fan of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

He will feel no particular urge to put Britain at the front of the cue for any trade deal – a prospect dangled by his predecessor but never sealed.

On 5 June, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall activists from climate action group, Ocean Rebellion called for world leaders to make sea a priority at talks
Image:
On 5 June, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall activists from climate action group, Ocean Rebellion called for world leaders to make sea a priority at talks

Then there is the significant issue of the impact on Northern Ireland of the UK’s Brexit deal.

Mr Biden has been clear he will not accept any action by Britain or the EU that further endangers the Good Friday agreement, which is already under strain.

PABest Front row left to right, European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, (middle row left to right) German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau, (back row left to right) Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio and French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Je
Image:
(Front row left to right), European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, (middle row left to right) German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

In addition, what will the US leader make of the UK government’s decision to shelve “temporarily” a promise to meet a UN target of spending 0.7% of national income on foreign aid at a time when the world’s poorest need help from the richest more than ever?

A £4bn cut in overseas aid means the UK is the only G7 nation reducing the amount it spend on helping developing nations.

The G7 will be held at the Carbis Bay Estate next to St Ives in Cornwall
Image:
Climate change will be a key topic for this year’s summit

That said, the UK and the US have always had their differences.

It is their common goals and values that makes this bilateral relationship so vital to both sides and the rest of the world’s democracies.

At a time of a rising authoritarian China and with threats from Russia still acute, Mr Johnson and Mr Biden will ultimately want to strike a united front, knowing that all democracies are stronger when they work together.

Continue Reading

US

Crucial $60.8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

Published

on

By

Crucial .8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

The US House of Representatives has approved sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans joined together after months of deadlock over renewed American support to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Representatives could be seen waving small Ukrainian flags as it became clear the package was going to pass.

Representatives wave Ukrainian flags
Image:
Representatives wave Ukrainian flags

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted to say he was “grateful” for the decision, which he said “keeps history on the right track”.

He said: “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

Representatives also approved bills to send foreign aid to Israel and provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians in Gaza, give security assistance to Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and a measure containing several foreign policy proposals including a threat to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

The package will now go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has then promised to sign it immediately.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” Mr Biden said.

What aid package means for Ukraine after profound impact of delay

The impact of this American blockage has been profound.

I have had multiple conversations with diplomats and military officials in Washington DC and all have said the same thing: the situation for Ukraine is depressing, Russia has the upper hand and prospects for Kyiv, without more weapons, are bleak.

The Ukrainians have been running low on all weapons types, even small arms – bullets for their soldiers’ rifles.

Before the House of Representatives approved the $60.8bn aid package on Saturday, it had been more than 480 days since Congress last passed a bill allowing for American weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

There was a White House budgetary fudge earlier this year which freed up some more cash from an existing bill and allowed for some more weapons to be sent. But it wasn’t enough.

Read more of Mark Stone’s analysis here.

Bill will ‘further ruin’ Ukraine, Russia warns

Moscow said the passage of the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and result in more deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency a provision allowing Washington to confiscate seized Russian assets and transfer them to Ukraine for reconstruction would tarnish the image of the US.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Major Russian strike on Ukraine kills eight

‘Ukraine can and will win’

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the funding was “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he tweeted.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

But Donald Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican representative who has opposed helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, said “people have been too obsessed with voting for foreign wars and the war industry”.

Speaking after the vote passed, she said: “This is the sellout of America today. When we had members of Congress in there waving the Ukrainian flag on the United States House of Representatives floor, while we’re doing nothing to secure our border, I think every American is going to be furious.”

Mr Biden first requested the funding in October, as Ukraine’s military supplies began to dwindle.

In February, Mr Zelenskyy urged Congress to pass the funding, saying if it did not “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”.

Continue Reading

US

TikTok could be banned in US after House of Representatives passes bill

Published

on

By

TikTok could be banned in US after House of Representatives passes bill

TikTok could be banned in the US if the social media app’s Chinese owner doesn’t sell its stake after the House of Representatives voted in support of the measure.

The TikTok legislation has been included in a US foreign policy package, which has already seen representatives approve sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine, security assistance for Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and will likely see the approval of foreign aid funding for Ukraine and Israel.

Once approved, the package will then go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has said he would sign the TikTok legislation once it reaches his desk.

If the bill becomes law, the owner of the popular video-sharing app will have nine months to find a buyer, with a possible three-month extension while a sale is in progress, or face a ban.

A previous bill passed by the House last month would have given owner ByteDance only six months to sell.

The company will likely try to challenge the law in court, arguing it would deprive the app’s millions of users of their First Amendment rights, which protect freedom of speech.

Such court challenges could significantly delay the timeline set out by Congress or block the law from coming into effect.

TikTok’s chief executive has appealed to US users directly to campaign to stop the bill.

“We will not stop fighting and advocating for you,” Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted on the platform last month that was directed at the app’s users.

“We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.”

The FBI has warned TikTok owner ByteDance could share user data, such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers, with China’s authoritarian government.

TikTok has said it has never done that and would not do so if asked.

Read more on Sky News:
Home Office to pay TikTok influencers urging migrants not to cross Channel
How ‘TikTok idiots’ are disrupting police investigations

In 2022, Mr Biden banned the use of TikTok by the federal government’s nearly four million employees on devices owned by its agencies, with limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security and security research purposes.

The approved bill including the TikTok legislation would also allow the US to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to help rebuild Ukraine and impose sanctions on Iran, Russia and China, as well as criminal organisations that traffic the drug fentanyl.

Continue Reading

US

Crucial $60.8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

Published

on

By

Iran grounds flights across country after reports of explosions

The US House of Representatives has approved sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans joined together after months of deadlock over renewed American support to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted to say he was “grateful” for the decision, which he said “keeps history on the right track”.

He said: “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

US President Joe Biden first requested the funding in October, as Ukraine’s military supplies began to dwindle.

In February, Mr Zelenskyy urged Congress to pass the funding, saying if it did not “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”.

Representatives also approved a bill providing security assistance to Taiwan and other allies in the Indo-Pacfic, as well as a bill containing several foreign policy proposals including a threat to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

It will vote on one further bill to send money to Israel.

Once approved, the package will go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. Mr Biden has then promised to sign it immediately.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

Continue Reading

Trending