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Joe Biden was declared winner of the US Presidential election on Saturday night and will take over from Donald Trump next January after his inauguration ceremony. The Democrat candidate is Barack Obama’s former Vice President and the President-elect could be about to appoint his ex-boss into a prominent position, which could spell trouble for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Biden is now in the process of slowly assembling his transition team and planning his future cabinet and key diplomatic positions.
One role which will need to be filled is ambassador to the UK, an important appointment as the two countries thrash out a post-Brexit trade deal.
UK officials are fearful the Democrat President could uproot progress already made in the talks – as Mr Biden has been a vocal critic of the UK’s plans to override parts of the EU withdrawal agreement if no deal is reached with the bloc.
Mr Johnson could be faced with further problems if the President-elect decides to appoint Mr Obama as the new UK ambassador.
Whitehall is currently planning to invite Mr Biden on a state visit next year, which could coincide with either the G7 or the climate summit, both of which are due to be held in the UK.
A source told the Sunday Times: “There have been informal discussions.”
Tory MPs are currently speculating who Mr Biden will send as an ambassador, and one insider with links to the US politician suggesting Mr Obama could be chosen.
They told the newspaper: “I have heard there is a possibility that Obama could be asked as a thank you.”
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But the source said the current focus was on securing a cabinet for the upcoming presidency.
If Mr Obama was appointed to the role, it could prove rather awkward for the Prime Minister.
This is due to Mr Johnson’s past remarks about the former President.
In 2016, when he was London Mayor, the Tory politician commented on the Obama administration’s decision to remove a bust of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill from the Oval office.
He said: “Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”
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Mr Johnson was heavily criticised for the comments, that referred to Mr Obama’s “part-Kenyan ancestry”.
His previous remarks were brought up this weekend, after the UK Prime Minister congratulated the Democrat on his win.
Senator Chris Coons, who is tipped to become Mr Biden’s secretary of state, claimed on Sunday the comments were “not well received” and suggested they should be “reconsidered”.
Mr Coons told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has endured over decades and I expect there will be opportunities promptly for there to be some visits and conversations and some reconsideration of whatever comments may have been made about the moment of Brexit.”
Asked specifically about Mr Johnson’s remarks about Mr Obama, he said: “That certainly wasn’t well received on my part.
“But frankly rather than re-litigating or revisiting comments that may have been made days or years ago, I think as we reimagine our engagement with our vital allies around the world, it’s important in a post-Trump era to have an open mind about how we can work together, especially with nations as important to the United States as the United Kingdom.”
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