This article was originally published in The Telegraph, 20/01/2021: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/20/biden-will-see-brexit-brita…
From insurrection to inauguration in two weeks. Today, scenes of smoke-strewn violence on the front steps of the Capitol will be replaced by smiling crowds and the Stars and Stripes.
A deeply unconservative assault on the institutions of American democracy was the ending I’ve long feared to Trump’s divisive presidency. His baseless allegations of electoral fraud put his culpability beyond question, and have caused huge damage to the fabric of democracy and its reputation abroad.
As the smoke clears, Biden’s first task clearly starts at home and we can expect that he will be magnanimous in victory. In doing so he should recognise some of the reasons why eleven million more people voted for Trump than four years ago, and seek to bring a polarised nation back together.
His other task will be to return America to a leading role in the international community. A strong America abroad depends on a strong America at home and both are in the UK’s interests, which is why I argued before the election that Britain would be better off with Biden. Some feared that Britain may be relegated in importance by a Biden administration – but we have precious little to show from four years of a supposedly Anglophile president, other than tariffs on our whisky and steel.
It’s true that Biden and many of those around him were Brexitsceptics. As instinctive multilateralists watching from afar that’s not surprising. Some Democrats have gone further by falling for the temptation of projecting their opposition to Trumpism onto Brexit – not helped by Nigel Farage’s bombastic tours of Fox News and Trump rallies. But both domestic battles are now over, and as the incoming administration looks for partners in an unpredictable world they will see Britain for what it really is.
An independent UK will rely on the rules-based international system more than ever. It’s with this internationalism that those previously Remain-inclined US officials will find common cause with a post-Brexit Global Britain.
The first big test for this will come in Cornwall, where the leaders of the G7 nations meet each other in June for the first time since the pandemic. This will be the world’s best chance of brokering a historic economic package aimed at resuscitating the global economy. And while Trump irresponsibly tried to pull the US out of the WHO, it’s also an opportunity to use our combined funding contributions and vaccine expertise to counter China’s undue influence and help all countries bring the pandemic under control.
Looking beyond Covid, the G7 will lay the groundwork for the second major diplomatic push of the year, this time in Glasgow. COP26 will be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted, and the most significant climate talks since the Paris Agreement. As the G7 country which has reduced its emissions the most since 1990, we’re well placed to lead on this.
While Trump risked it being another talking-shop by refusing to even participate, Biden has promised to raise ambitions. Our efforts shouldn’t be limited to emissions targets either – striking a benchmark "green trade agreement" with the US could raise the standard for other advanced economies and send a powerful message about our post-Brexit values.
The UK’s potent blend of hard and soft power will continue to be invaluable both to the US and Europe on other shared challenges. This Government's decision to invest £16 billion more in our future defence capabilities represents a major commitment to Nato. The UK was a positive influence within the EU on international security and values issues, which has been slow to sanction Russian aggression and quick to do an investment deal with a communist China that is using truly Orwellian methods to oppress millions of Muslims. Now we must blaze a trail from the outside and continue working together wherever we can.
From Hong Kong to Hungary, we are living through a period of astonishing democratic decline. As powerful as the transatlantic alliance can be, we can’t uphold our values on our own. That’s why Boris plans to host the first "D10" summit of leading democracies – another agenda that Biden has also made a critical plank of his foreign policy.
Eighty years ago, while war raged across Europe, Roosevelt and Churchill met on a ship in the North Atlantic and drafted the Atlantic Charter together. That charter led to Bretton Woods, which laid the foundations for post-war economic recovery, free trade and collective security.
As the world battles the pandemic and confronts multiple attacks on democracy, it’s time to craft another ambitious plan for reconstruction and renewal. Once again, there is a unique opportunity for a Democratic President and a Conservative Prime Minister to show the way.
Sajid Javid MP is the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary