The election of Joe Biden to the United States Presidency, succeeding the divisive Donald Trump, is good news not just for America but for us as well says Ivor Gaber

There has been an awful lot of television devoted to events in Washington over the last few days but why should we care about who is sitting in the White House? 

Donald Trump has clearly been a very controversial and divisive President and Joe Biden is almost certainly going to be very different, but what’s it got to do with us?

It’s a fair question to ask but I would suggest that the answer is very clear – it has a great deal to do with us and the election of Joe Biden is good news for the UK.
Trump was a global disruptor.

He didn’t believe in what is called multi-lateralism, that is nations working together to solve common problems.

So when he said “America First” he meant it.

Trump’s policies in the international field have adversely affected us in a number of ways.

The threat of Covid 19 is global but Trump has never taken it seriously, despite the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans.

Whilst the pandemic still rages in the United States then we are all at risk.

To make matters worse he also withdrew the USA from the World Health Organisation.

He might have believed the WHO kow-towed to China over the origins of the coronavirus but to withdraw the US – which provided 20 per cent of the WHO budget– from the one global body capable of organising an international response to the pandemic was just plain short-sighted. Biden has returned the US to the World Health Organisation.

Trump also withdrew America from the Paris Climate Accord, claiming it would be damaging to the US economy. This directly affects us in two ways. The United States is the world’s second largest source of carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change, and Trump not only withdrew from the Accord but also relaxed many of the environmental measures that his predecessors had introduced.  

So America, the world’s second largest emitter of CO2, has continued to add to the global climate emergency. (Just in case you’re wondering China is the world’s biggest source of CO2 but they did sign up to the Paris Accord and claim to be dramatically cutting their CO2 emissions).

By withdrawing from the agreement Trump gave the green light to other nations to ignore the climate emergency. This week’s floods in the north of England are just one of many reasons why we need to take this issue seriously. Within hours of becoming President Joe Biden took America back into the Paris Accord. 

The third example of the negative global impact of Trump was his decision to pull the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The Iranian government is potentially a dangerous and disruptive force in the  Middle East and the agreement, reached in the Obama years, ensured that it did not start producing nuclear weapons. The agreement has just about held together, despite the US withdrawal, but it is hanging by a thread and Iran is showing worrying signs of ignoring it. Biden has said he wants to re-engage with it, but first wants to be assured that Iran has not already gone down the nuclear road. 

Apart from these global benefits, in terms of the UK’s specific relationship with America, Biden’s election is good news. 

I say “will be” because first we have a little local difficulty– namely that Boris Johnson was seen as one of Trump’s greatest admirers. Indeed, because of Johnson’s casual relationship with the truth, the Americans dubbed him “mini-Trump”.

Our government has long argued that, because of the close relationship between Trump and Johnson, it would be that much easier to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal. But it hasn’t turned out that way.

Talks have barely started and the punitive tariffs that Trump imposed on some British exports, particularly Scotch whisky, remain. Hardly surprising. Did anyone honestly think that Mr Trump would be a pushover when it came to negotiating a new trade deal?

President Biden won’t be a pushover either and it would be understandable if he didn’t see securing a new trade deal with the United Kingdom as a priority.

Nevertheless, once those talks start in earnest I am confident a Biden administration will be easier to deal with.

The defeat of Donald Trump represents, as Biden put it, the triumph of truth over lies. America likes to style itself as the leader of the free world. Whether or not this is the case, there is no doubting that how America conducts itself on the world stage sets a tone for the way all nations deal with each other. Under Trump it was bleak, after the election of Joe Biden it is now beginning to lighten.

Ivor Gaber is professor of political pournalism at the University of Sussex and a former political correspondent at Westminster.