The ongoing political crisis in the UK has generated concerns inside the White House at the potential global economic fallout, people familiar with the situation say.
This concern emerged in US President Joe Biden’s highly unusual criticism of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s economic plans last weekend,
The statement, made in an Oregon ice cream shop, broke the standard of avoiding discussing other countries’ politics — particularly those of the United States’ top ally. It reflected a deeply skeptical view of Truss’ policies that had been simmering inside the White House since she took office six weeks ago.
White House officials mostly declined to expand on Biden’s comments. But privately many officials have voiced concerns at the chaos within Britain’s ruling party and the effect that could have on global issues.
The Biden White House shed few tears for Boris Johnson when he resigned and there was a perception that Truss would follow in his policy mold, even as she lacks the personal drama — or charisma — of Boris.
The chaos and economic turmoil that ensued once she took office was eye-opening for many US officials, who viewed the situation cautiously.
Truss’s hardline approach to Brexit also set off relations with Biden on a sour note. The President has taken a personal interest in the particular issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a post-Brexit arrangement that requires extra checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The rules were designed to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open and avoid a return to sectarian violence. But Truss has moved to rewrite those rules, causing deep anxiety in both Brussels and Washington.
Biden, who makes frequent references to his Irish ancestry, has made his views clear on the issue, even though it does not directly involve the United States. Congressional Democrats have similarly voiced concern at any steps that could reignite the Northern Ireland conflict.
In their first phone call as counterparts earlier this month, Biden raised the matter with Truss, according to the White House. A US readout of their conversation said they discussed a “shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the importance of reaching a negotiated agreement with the European Union on the Northern Ireland Protocol.”