The man in charge of Joe Biden’s transition of power has said it was a “very smart move on Boris Johnson’s part” for the prime minister to call and congratulate the president-elect “early … when other world leaders were concerned that Trump wasn’t out for sure”.
Former senator Ted Kaufman, who is one of Mr Biden’s oldest friends and worked on the incoming president’s first race for the Senate back in 1972, praised Mr Johnson in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.
“Boris Johnson called him up early to congratulate him, when other world leaders were concerned that Trump wasn’t out for sure, and I think that was a very smart move on Boris Johnson’s part,” Mr Kaufman told Radio 4’s Nick Robinson.
Asked how Mr Biden would set about establishing a working relationship with Mr Johnson, and the UK in general, Mr Kaufman said: “I think England, the UK, is a country that he really cares about. He thinks it’s really important. And he’s going to want to establish close ties with England — you can honestly go to the bank on that, that’s what he’s gonna do.”
BBC’s Mr Robinson reminded Mr Kaufman that the British prime minister was infamously thanked by Donald Trump back in September, after leaked memos revealed that Mr Johnson had credited Mr Trump with “making America great again”.
“He just doesn’t understand the whole grudge concept,” Mr Kaufman responded, speaking about Mr Biden. “I’m telling you, it bothers me because I think sometimes you should have a grudge against certain people. But he just doesn’t understand that at all.”
There was much speculation around the call between Mr Johnson and Mr Biden, after Downing Street was forced to confirm the prime minister was “not concerned” that the pair had not spoken two days after the election result.
The call eventually took place on 11 November at around 4pm GMT and as it turned out, Mr Johnson was among the first world leaders to talk to the president-elect, ahead of German chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s president Emmanuel Macron and behind only Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
It was reported the conversation lasted around 25 minutes, in which time Mr Johnson congratulated Mr Biden on his victory and invited him to the UK for next year’s UN climate change summit in Glasgow.
Talking about the “kind of president” Mr Biden would be, Mr Kaufamn told Radio 4 he would “come into the office more ready to govern than any other president, by far, in our history”. Giving a nod to Mr Biden’s wealth of experience, Mr Kaufman said that after “36 years of the US Senate, and eight years as vice president” Mr Biden would be the “most experienced president ever”.
Mr Robinson finished by asking whether Mr Biden, the soon-to-be 46th president of the US, was up to the job of uniting a “divided” America, in which people are “pitted against each other every day”.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult. But that’s what Joe has done his whole career,” Mr Kaufman said.