Blog: ‘Obama is unacceptable’ Boris ‘rejects’ Biden choice for US Ambassador after Brexit claim – Express

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Foreign Office and Washington sources have told the Sunday Express the Biden administration had informally suggested the former US President but Boris Johnson does not want Mr Obama to fill the post. If true it would be the first known case of a potential US Ambassador to the UK appointment being objected to by the British government. There have been disagreements between Mr Obama and Mr Johnson since 2016 when he came on a visit to Britain during the EU referendum and claimed Britain would be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals.

It was an almost unprecedented intervention in a domestic issue in Britain by a serving US President and was aimed at undermining a core argument of the Leave campaign being led by Mr Johnson by dismissing claims that EU trade could be replaced by a US trade deal.

Mr Johnson also is said to have infuriated Mr Obama with a column he wrote on the then US President suggesting his remarks were linked to his dislike of Britain because of his father’s family coming from Kenya and opposing British colonial rule.

He also highlighted how Mr Obama had removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office on being sworn in as President as further evidence of his disdain for Britain.

One senior Whitehall source told the Sunday Express: “It’s absolutely true that the government has privately objected to an Obama appointment. It’s also true that this is why there is a delay.”

Another senior source said: “Obama is just unacceptable. The back of the queue comment alone makes him unacceptable.”

Barack Obama

Boris Johnson does not want Mr Obama to be US Ambassador (Image: Getty )

However, it is also understood that there are concerns that the US President would “create a rival court in Britain to the court of Boris and Carrie”.

“You can imagine he will have an open door to former Remainers, opponents of the Government. Michelle [Obama] will carry on touring schools. It will be a rival focus to the government especially with question marks over the relationship between Biden and Boris.”

The tensions mean that Woody Johnson, Donald Trump’s ambassador, has yet to be replaced after a term where he received praise for the good relations he fostered in the UK over a difficult period with Brexit.

It is now believed that Mr Biden will put off a decision until next year.

Last night a A UK Government spokeswoman said: “These reports are simply untrue. Questions on US appointments are for the US.”

She also highlighted the strong relationship between the UK and US where they continue to engage extensively. 

US Ambassador to the UK US Ambassador to the UK

Joe Biden would like to appoint Barack Obama as US Ambassador to the UK (Image: Getty )

The Prime Minister was the first European leader to speak to President Biden following his election win and inauguration and Biden’s first overseas visit was to the UK when he attended the G7 last month. 

The UK Government also pointed out that the Foreign Secretary and his counterpart Anthony Blinken speak regularly, with Blinken having attended the G7 foreign ministerial meetings here in May.

A Downing Street source added: “Questions on US appointments are for the US. However, it is quite usual for new US governments to take some time to make ambassadorial appointments. There are a number of senior diplomatic postings yet to be confirmed, not just the UK.”

The row comes as the Sunday Express has also been told that the US President is being pushed to end the tradition of political appointments and instead rely on career diplomats for the key ambassadorial positions.

The almost unprecedented move would put pay to the hopes of mega-donors such as Disney chairman Bob Iger, famously filmed being asked by Prince Harry to provide voice-over work for the Duchess of Sussex during a Lion King premier in 2019.

Mr Obama and Mr Johnson

There have been disagreements between Mr Obama and Mr Johnson since 2016 (Image: Getty )

The 69-year-old,  who is said to have given $250,000 to the Biden Victory Fund -  has reportedly made it clear that he expects to receive the ambassadorships in either Beijing or London in return.  

Other names in contention have been Cindy McCain,  the anglophile businesswoman and widow of the late Senator John McCain – who delivered Arizona to Biden  – and Comcast executive David Cohen, another top donor who hosted President-elect Biden’s kickoff election campaign fundraiser at his Philadelphia home in April 2019.

Around 800 donors raised at least £100,000 each for Biden’s election campaign.

But the new president is facing increased pressure to mark a radical departure from US tradition, which generally sees around 30 percent of all ambassadorships given to those who have demonstrated personal loyalty to the President.

One reason is to create clear blue water between Biden and Trump, who increase this to 44 percent – a record number.

Leading Democrat Elizabeth Warren even went so far as to pledge that she would “make my ambassadorial appointments based on only one thing: finding the most qualified person for the job – I won’t give ambassadorial posts to wealthy donors or bundlers — period,” if she were chosen as presidential candidate.

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