Editorial: The UK has long been a key ally for America, yet President Biden is not always friendly

​​News Letter editorial on Tuesday July 11 2023:
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Joe Biden paid tribute yesterday to the 'rock-solid' relationship between the US and the UK. The American president was in London, where he met King Charles and the prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

It is welcome that he praise the closeness of ties between the two countries when he was in Downing Street, en route to a Nato summit in Lithuania. It is ironic, however, that Mr Biden, was travelling to that gathering of the defence pact when he said he "couldn't be meeting with a closer friend and a greater ally". While Mr Sunak hailed the US and UK as "two of the firmest allies" in the alliance, the US snubbed the UK defence secretary Ben Wallace as the next had of Nato.

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It seems instead that Ursula von der Leyen of the EU will get the top job. But she was not as admired as Mr Wallace in her past post of German defence secretary.

Such an appointment, if it comes about, seems to be in part an attempt by Washington to please the two big EU nations, Germany and France. That is understandable, because they are very powerful, and they would not want to see the UK get such a reward. But of the big European countries, it is the UK which most meets its defence obligations.

Mr Biden has in the past spoken very warmly about the UK, including as far back as 1982, during the Falklands conflict, when some prominent Americans seemed ambivalent about the UK in its fight against an Argentinian fascist junta.

But he also has a pronounced Irish American streak which keeps coming out, and can make him seem intermittently hostile to America’s most reliable ally of the last century. This was particularly apparent when Mr Biden repeatedly interfered in defence of an Irish Sea border. The US is immensely powerful but even so, UK support for it has at times been of great value.