Theresa May and Joe Biden, sinking the special relationship


This past weekend, Joe Biden appeared to stick his foot in his mouth when he told supporters at a campaign stop about a conversation he allegedly had with British Prime Minister Theresa May. If his account of their chat is accurate, the PM may have inadvertently stuck her nose into our presidential elections and put a ding in our “special relationship” with her nation. And the timing of this news isn’t particularly ideal given that it comes only a couple of weeks before President Trump’s first official visit to Great Britain. (Washington Examiner)

Joe Biden’s claim that Theresa May confided to him her concerns about President Trump risks undermining relations between the United Kingdom and the United States just weeks ahead of the president’s first state visit to Britain.

His comments, made to supporters in bungled fashion on Saturday, raised fresh questions about his fitness for office and provoked criticism that May had broken diplomatic protocols.

A former British diplomat said the prime minister had made the mistake of inserting herself into America’s election battleground. “This seems an extraordinary breach of protocol,” he said. “Frankly, it’s an embarrassingly undiplomatic piece of diplomacy. Relations with the Trump administration were already on shaky ground.”

The exact nature of the quote from Theresa May and when it was given aren’t known, but the general description was of the PM questioning Donald Trump’s fitness to lead and worrying over their relationship with the United States. Originally it was suggested that Biden had been on a phone call with her, but her administration quickly shot that idea down, saying there had been no phone call.

A later clarification indicated that Biden had actually spoken to her last October during an event in London that both had attended. That sounds more plausible. Either way, it’s turned into something of a diplomatic debacle. Having a foreign leader weighing in on an American election on the side of one party or the other could be seen as “interfering in our elections,” couldn’t it? I thought we’d all agreed that that was a bad thing.

But assuming the conversation took place as suggested, who is really at fault here… Joe Biden or Theresa May? Elected officials and world leaders are just people like the rest of us, after all. They have opinions and they almost certainly all engage in private conversations. For May and Biden to have a chat in private wouldn’t be all that shocking. But I’m guessing the Prime Minister assumed it was going to remain private, not turn up as campaign fodder for the frontrunner in the Democrats’ primary race. If Joe had kept his mouth shut, none of this would have gone south the way it’s doing now.

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A bigger question might be why Biden has been wasting his time firming up a relationship with Theresa May. The most recent reports out of London say that May’s own party is pressuring her for a date when she plans to step down. Even if Biden wins the nomination and the White House, by the time he’s sworn in there will almost certainly be a new Prime Minister. A curious way to handle this one, Joe. Remember… loose lips sink relationships.

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