A composite image of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden. Getty

Biden mentioned the US-UK “special relationship” on a call with Johnson, The Atlantic reported.

Johnson told Biden he didn’t like using the term, the outlet said.

Johnson thinks the term makes his country look weak and needy, the report said.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was upset that President Joe Biden referred to the “special relationship” between the US and UK, according to a new profile by The Atlantic’s Tom McTague.

The in-depth profile, which published Monday, was the result of four months of reporting in which McTague followed Johnson around the UK, and interviewed him and his aides.

The profile includes one anecdote, given by one of Johnson’s aides, that Johnson pushed back on Biden in an early phone call with the US president.

In the call, Biden referred to the “special relationship” between the UK and US, but Johnson said he didn’t like the term, The Atlantic reported.

“To Johnson it seemed needy and weak,” the report said.

Insider contacted Downing Street for comment.

The Atlantic did not specify on what day Johnson and Biden spoke, but Biden spoke to Johnson for the first time as president on January 23. According to the White House readout of the call, Biden “conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries.”

Biden in Michigan on May 18, 2021. Nicholas Kamm/Associated Press


The term “special relationship” is widely attributed to Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, whom Johnson wrote a book about and is known to idolize.

The phrase is often used by both British and American politicians to perpetuate the idea that the US and UK are equally reliant on each other.

On May 3, secretary of state Anthony Blinken said the US has “no closer ally” than the UK and praised the “special relationship.”

In an opinion article published Sunday by The Washington Post, Biden wrote that he would use his upcoming visit to the UK for the G7 summit “to affirm the special relationship between our nations.”

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The G7 summit is being held in Cornwall between June 11 and June 13. After the summit concludes, Biden and his wife Jill are due to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

Since becoming president, Biden has made it clear that the UK’s stance on Northern Ireland is jeopardizing good relations.

In November last year, Biden said he had told Johnson that he didn’t want a hard border between Britain and Northern Ireland to emerge after Brexit. “The idea of having a border north and south once again being closed is just not right, we’ve just got to keep the border open,” he said.

On Monday, The Times of London reported that Biden would raise the issue once again with Johson during the G7 summit.

Biden also plans to tell Johnson that the prospect of a UK-US trade deal will be damaged if the border scenario remains unsolved, the Times said.

Members of Biden’s 2020 election campaign told Insider last year that Biden does not view Johnson favorably, and that Biden still remembers the UK prime minister’s past jabs against former President Barack Obama.

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