On January 20th, Democrat Joseph R Biden Jr was inaugurated to become 46th President of the United States, alongside Vice-President Kamala Harris. In November 2020, Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump with an election with record turnout, reflecting the importance of this vote for the direction of American politics. Some of the key issues on the ballot included the coronavirus pandemic, foreign policy and the environment.
A week after the inauguration, Lansons Board Director James Dowling hosted an event that examined the incoming Biden administration and what it could mean for Britain. First, the panel of speakers turned to the priorities of the Biden presidency.
Bill Black, Program Director at The Conference Board, suggested that Biden’s approach is to be ‘radically normal’ with an emphasis on hiring experienced and known quantities. He highlighted that a key element of his legacy will be to paint Trump.
Tim Bourgaize Murray, AVP at Lansons Intermarket, argued that that, ‘from a New York perspective, it is less a question for the government being radical or progressive, with very few progressives appointed to the Cabinet, but of being proactive when facing a post-Covid economy.’
On the topic of the expectation of the American public towards Biden, Adam Drummond, Head of Political Polling at Opinium Research, argued that there would be a return to normalcy, with Biden’s approval ratings in line with Obama’s and Bush’s around 56 to 60 percent.
He contended that the election win was ‘not at the margin that had been hoped for’, however the win of the two Georgia Senate seats in the January run-off election to take control of the Senate had emboldened the Democrats.
When faced with the question of what the biggest differences will be from Trump to Biden in terms of their style of Presidency and priorities, Bill Black called Biden a ‘dramatic departure from Trump’ and this was signified by immediately re-joining to the Paris Climate agreement and the appointment of John Kerry, former Secretary of State, to head the US Climate effort in a clear statement of intent with COP26 as a priority.
The panel then turned to the future relationship between Britain and the United States. There was agreement in the panel that the UK-US special relationship would not be the most pressing matter for the incoming president. Adam Drummond and Bill Black both agreed that the UK will be at the bottom of trade priorities for the Biden Administration, and that the issue of trade itself would be below Covid-19, the economy, climate and racial justice.
Tim Bourgaize Murray added to this by arguing that the ‘table is full in terms of policy making priorities’, noting that he also expects changes in terms of big tech regulation which could have global implications.
However, the panel’s audience remained hopeful, with 74% of people believing there would be a UK-US trade deal within the next four years, even if they didn’t feel the relationship between the two nations would be special, with 67% agreeing that it would be simply functional.
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