Joe Biden snubs risks major UK spat as Sir Winston Churchill bust no longer ‘on display’ | UK | News (Reports)

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Pictures of the Oval Office on Mr Biden’s Inauguration Day show a redecorated room with new features. The Jacob Epstein-made bust of the war-time Prime Minister was gifted to George W Bush by Tony Blair. Donald Trump had given it a prominent position in the room, as a nod to the US and UK’s “special relationship”.

Mr Biden’s re-designed Oval Office “does not have the bust on display”, according to the Washington Post.

The outlet was given an advanced tour of the new President’s office.

Instead, Mr Biden has decorated the Oval Office with busts of Martin Luther King Jr, Robert Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Cesar Chavez among others.

He also decorated the office with a large portrait of former President Franklin D Roosevelt, and paintings of Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

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Barack Obama, President from 2008 to 2016, had also removed Mr Churchill’s bust from the office in favour of Mr King Jr.

Boris Johnson, then-Mayor of London, lashed out at the change of decoration at the time, and called it a “snub to Britain’.

He added in : “No-one was sure whether the president had himself been involved in the decision.

“Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”

Mr Obama responded at the time Mr Churchill’s bust was in the Treaty Room, and added: “There are only so many tables where you can put busts otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered.”

Mr Johnson, now Prime Minister, has welcomed the Biden administration as a “fantastic thing”.

He said to Sky News: “Obviously it’s the job of all UK prime ministers that have a close working relationship with the president of the United States and actually, when you look at what unites me and Joe Biden, there is a fantastic joint united agenda.

“It’s a fantastic thing for America, for a country that’s been through a bumpy period and for us and America, it’s a big moment, we’ve got things we want to do together, we’ve got to bounce back from Covid together.

When asked whether he thought Mr Biden is woke, the Prime Minister added: “I can’t possibly comment on that.”

It comes as fears rise the Biden administration would struggle to work with Mr Johnson due to the Prime Minister’s work with Mr Trump during his time as President.

Sir Peter Westmacott, former British Ambassador to the United States, insisted however Mr Biden would not hold a grudge with the UK, and added: ”There is a bit of work to be done in terms of fixing a relationship.

“Joe Biden does not think Brexit was very clever, he was deeply worried about talk breaking international law.

“He was deeply worried about the threat to the Good Friday Agreement because he is very strongly an Irish Catholic. But Joe Biden is not a man that bears grudges.

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“I think the scope for getting this relationship right early on is definitely there if we welcome it and we are serious.

“We will get it right if the United Kingdom is able to show to the incoming President what we have got to bring to the table that makes a difference to Joe Biden’s own agenda.”

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