Biden ally says Boris Johnson must reconsider his Brexit plans as former Obama aide calls him a 'shapeshifting creep'

  • A close ally of Joe Biden has warned that he has "significant concerns" about Brexit as the deadline for the UK and EU to strike a trade deal approaches.
  • Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said there fears in Washington about the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and on the Irish border and urged a "reconsideration" of the policy.
  • Coons, who has been tipped as a potential Secretary of State under Biden, also criticised Boris Johnson's 2016 jibe about Barack Obama having an "ancestral" mistrust of the UK due to being "part-Kenyan."
  • One former spokesman for Obama tweeted on Saturday that Johnson was a "shapeshifting creep" and a "racist," following the UK Prime Minister's congratulation tweet to the President-elect.
  • There are growing concerns in the UK about the future of relations between the two countries under Biden's leadership.
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A close ally of Joe Biden has warned that he has "significant concerns" about Boris Johnson's Brexit plans as a former aide to President Obama branded the UK Prime Minister a "shapeshifting creep."

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who is in contention become Secretary of State in the next administration, told the BBC that a Biden administration would push for a UK-US trade deal after Brexit but said there were "significant" concerns in Washington about the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and on the Irish border.

"There are of course significant concerns here about how any departure arrangements — final status, between the UK and EU — might impact the border in Northern Ireland," Coons told the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

It comes after Boris Johnson introduced Brexit legislation which senior Democrats have warned would undermine the Good Friday Agreement, the landmark peace deal which ended much of the violence resulting from political conflict on the island of Ireland.

Biden warned in September that he would not sign off any UK-US trade deal if Johnson pushed ahead with ahead with the plan. Boris Johnson sees the prospect of a UK-US bilateral deal as a big political prize of Brexit.

"We can't allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit," said Biden in a tweet dated September 16.

"Any trade deal between the US and UK. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period."

Coons, who is Delaware's junior senator, was re-elected to his Senate seat last week and is close friends with the President-elect.

He also highlighted agricultural issues which may impede the progress of a UK-US trade deal, with the US insisting the UK import certain products across the Atlantic including chlorinated chicken which are currently banned by food standards regulations.

But while Coons highlighted potential barriers to a trade deal, he said that a Biden presidency would see the US "restore, re-engage, and reimagine" its close alliances and said Biden had a "long and deeply valued partnership" with the United Kingdom.

"I think you'll see a significant shift in terms of US foreign policy, in particular with regards to our close embrace of allies with whom we share core values," he said.

Downing Street nonetheless are concerned by multiple reports over the weekend that Biden's camp harbours a degree of personal animosity towards Boris Johnson, partly due to his support for Brexit and partly due to Boris Johnson's suggestion in 2016 that President Obama may have had an "ancestral dislike of the British empire" due to his "part-Kenyan heritage."

Coons said the comments, made in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, were "not well-received" by him personally.

Downing Street's concerns will have been further compounded by comments made by a former press spokesman for President Obama, Tommy Vieto. Responding to Boris Johnson's congratulatory message to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, on Saturday Vieto said: "This shapeshifting creep weighs in. We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump but neat Instagram graphic."

Coons said however that in his own meetings with Boris Johnson, the prime minister had "agile, engaging, educated, and forward-looking than perhaps the caricature of him in the American press would have suggested."

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