LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain on Wednesday insisted its close partnership with the United States was in safe hands whoever comes out on top of the tumultuous presidential election, while noting disaccord over the Paris climate pact.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist ally of President Donald Trump, stayed up into the night to follow the results coming in, according to a Downing Street spokesman.
But Johnson refused to be drawn in parliament when grilled about the Republican’s premature claim of victory and his intention to ask the Supreme Court to halt the vote counting.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps came closer to breaching UK neutrality over the election, in discussing Britain’s support for action on climate change as it prepares to host a major UN summit next year.
“One can imagine that one of those candidates would be more enthusiastic (on climate policy) as president than the other,” he told ITV News, referring to Democrat Joe Biden.
Former prime minister Theresa May noted that the election dispute coincided with Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord taking effect on Wednesday.
“We will soon know who will be the next US president. But, sadly, today also marks the US leaving the Paris accord — the world’s foremost attempt to build consensus on climate change,” she tweeted.
“Whoever is elected has an immense responsibility to help tackle our planet’s greatest challenge.”
Britain is due next year to convene the UN’s COP 26 climate summit, and Johnson’s spokesman said the government was looking forward to a “successful hosting” of the multinational meeting, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously we’ve made clear to the US administration throughout this process that we remain firm supporters of the Paris Agreement,” the spokesman told reporters.
He added that the transatlantic relationship would “go from strength to strength whichever candidate wins the election”.
“Across trade, security, intelligence, defence, innovation and culture, few countries do more together.”
For his part, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I’m not worried about the relationship.”
“The contours of the opportunities and the risks always shift a little bit, but that needs to be set against the context of this bedrock and this wider set of interests which are so strong,” he told Sky News.
Raab also downplayed concerns expressed by Biden over the UK’s plans for Northern Ireland after its Brexit divorce from the European Union.
© Agence France-Presse