Joe Biden calls the Royal Air Force the ‘RFA’ in new gaffe while addressing US troops in Britain
Joe Biden called the Royal Air Force the ‘RFA’ while addressing US military personnel based in Britain at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk during his first-ever speech as US President on UK soil last night.
The gaffe came after the 78-year-old President declared that the Anglo-American alliance, forged during the Second World War, was the ‘strongest military and political alliance in the history of the world’.
Speaking to US troops, Mr Biden said: ‘These partnerships have been hardened in the fire of war. Generations of Americans and service members fought them. Like the original Bloody Hundredth, and those RFA pilots.’
He had already been admonished by his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, who told him to ‘pay attention’ as the President stared at troops positioned behind the stage at the military base.
Joe Biden called the Royal Air Force the ‘RFA’ while addressing US military personnel based in Britain at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk during his first-ever speech as US President on UK soil last night
The gaffe came after the 78-year-old President declared that the Anglo-American alliance forged during the Second World War was the ‘strongest military and political alliance in the history of the world’
He had already been admonished by his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, who told him to ‘pay attention’ as the President stared at troops positioned behind the stage at the military base
The President and First Lady travelled to the Tregenna Castle Hotel, where they stayed last night, in an armoured SUV with a union flag and stars and stripes flying from the hood. The traditional ‘beast’ armoured’ limousine was not used
Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are staying at the Tregenna Castle Hotel in St Ives during the G7 Summit in Cornwall
Cornwall is the site of the G7 Summit, where the leaders of Britain, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada will discuss the pandemic, climate change and the threats posed to world order by China and Russia
Joe Biden’s G7 schedule includes a meeting with the Queen after summit
President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip as the US leader will feature a meeting with the Queen following the G7 summit. Here’s his full schedule to June 16:
Wednesday, June 9
Biden and his wife, Jill, leave Washington on Wednesday morning. Their first stop in the UK will be at Royal Air Force Mildenhall to greet US Air Force personnel stationed there. Mildenhall is home to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the only permanent US Air Force air refueling wing in the European theater.
Thursday, June 10
Biden will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson at St Michael’s Mount, a 17th-century castle on an island just off the coast of Cornwall.
Jill Biden will have tea separately with the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson.
The Bidens are staying at Tregenna Castle Hotel n St Ives with the rest of the G7 leaders.
Friday, June 11
Biden will attend the G7 summit for three days starting on Friday, to work on US policy priorities such as the economy and allied unity.
Saturday, June 12
Biden will attend more G7 summit meetings in Cornwall and have bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders.
Jill Biden will meet members of Bude Surf Veterans, which helps UK military veterans through surfing.
Sunday, June 13
Biden will finish his meetings at the G7 summit. Afterward, the Bidens will meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. Then Biden will travel to Brussels for the night.
Monday, June 14
Biden will meet NATO leaders and have a private meeting with the president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan.
Tuesday, June 15
Biden will hold more NATO meetings and then fly to Geneva for the night.
Wednesday, June 16
Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday it was unclear whether the two leaders would hold a joint news conference after their talks.
But the embarrassing blunder could raise concerns about the mental agility of Mr Biden, the oldest ever occupant of the White House – who is using the G7 Summit in Cornwall to tackle serious global issues including the pandemic, climate change and the threats posed by China and Russia.
It also follows reports that Mr Biden and Boris Johnson may not get along so easily, after Washington rebuked London for ‘inflaming tensions’ over the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol – an astonishing broadside at an ally.
A memo seen by the Times states that the President had used his diplomats to ‘strongly urge’ Britain to ‘stay cool’ and reach an agreement with the EU, even if that meant making ‘unpopular [political] compromises’.
Mr Biden even threatened to torpedo British chances of striking a new free trade deal with the US if Mr Johnson did not calm tensions – sparking fury among senior Brexiteers.
The Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed in October 2019, seeks to prevent a hard land border between the UK province and the Republic of Ireland. Under the terms of the deal, Northern Ireland is effectively in the Single Market and is also bound by the rules of the EU customs union. However, tensions between Britain and Brussels have flared over the flow of UK-produced chilled meats to Northern Ireland, dubbed the ‘sausage war’.
Mr Biden hopes to use his first overseas trip as president to reassure European allies that the United States had shed the transactional tendencies of Donald Trump’s term and is a reliable partner again. But tensions may simmer beneath the surface of Biden’s meeting with Johnson.
The president staunchly opposed the Brexit movement, the British exodus from the European Union that Johnson championed, and has expressed great concern with the future of Northern Ireland. And Biden once called the British leader a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of Trump.
Mr Biden has refused to take sides in Northern Ireland since he entered the White House in January, despite the UK being seen as the US’s main ally in Western Europe.
His rebuke to Mr Johnson is a marked departure from the US’s hostility to the EU under his predecessor. Mr Trump spent his four-year term embroiled in rows with European nations over transatlantic trade and the level of contributions made by NATO member states to defence spending levels.
But Mr Biden is seeking to rebuild relations with the EU, and his criticism of Mr Johnson and the UK should be seen through that prism.
In March, regarding the current impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a spokesman said: ‘We view that as a trade issue to be resolved between the UK and the EU. We hope that both sides are able to return to the table and discuss the implementation of the agreement.’
They should also been seen through the context of the president’s own personal and familial interest in Ireland.
Mr Biden, who is fiercely proud of his Irish roots, has warned that nothing should undermine Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace accord. Some on the British side have viewed Biden warily because of his heritage.
Mr Biden has previously spoken with pride about his Irish Catholic roots in his Pennsylvania birthplace, and he travelled to County Mayo in 2016 to visit distant relatives. He is seen as far more open to Irish re-unification than his predecessor. And he is unlikely to see eye-to-eye with loyalists like the DUP.
In 2015 he sparked fury, when, as a senator, he quipped to an Irish delegation that no one ‘wearing orange’ was welcome in his house on St Patrick’s Day, a comment seen as a slur against Protestants in Ulster.
Mr Biden was also photographed alongside former Sinn Fein president Mr Adams and with his arm around the party’s then US representative, Rita O’Hare, in 2017. In 1972 she was arrested in Northern Ireland for the attempted murder of a British Army officer in Belfast the previous year.
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson’s visit to St Michael’s Mount cancelled due to fog
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson’s planned visit to St Michael’s Mount today has been cancelled due to bad weather, MailOnline understands.
The President and PM were due to have a bilateral at the 17th-century castle on an island off the coast of Cornwall when they meet for the first time today.
However, the location has been changed due to bad weather including fog. It is thought the two leaders will instead meet at the four-star Carbis Bay Hotel.
Mr Biden and Mr Johnson are tipped to affirm the so-called Special Relationship between the two countries and set up a new Atlantic Charter modelled on the Second World War pact made by Roosevelt and Churchill. They are also expected to work on opening up Anglo-US travel ‘as soon as possible’.
Yesterday the First Lady thanked the troops their service in her brief remarks, and touted her Joining Forces initiative – a group she formed with then-first lady Michelle Obama to support families of American troops.
‘I hope that you know how special you are. And we are so grateful for your and your family’s service,’ she said.
She and the US President left the White House on Wednesday and touched down at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk in Air Force One just after 7.30pm, kicking off the president’s eight-day trip to Europe.
The UK stop will include this week’s G7 summit as well as face-to-face meetings with the Queen and Mr Johnson.
Mr Biden’s packed scheduled also includes meetings with NATO leaders and EU leaders in Brussels. His trip will be capped off with a sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva next week.
For his first event, Mr Biden will meet US military personnel stationed at the base before heading to Carbis Bay near St Ives, where the leaders of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada will gather for three days.
Mr Biden is scheduled to meet with Mr Johnson for face-to-face talks today – the first time the two men will have met in person – before the G7 Summit formally gets underway on Friday. However, their planned visit to St Michael’s Mount off the coast of Cornwall has been cancelled due to bad weather.
When the summit ends on Sunday, the President and First Lady will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.
Mr Biden will then depart for Brussels where he will attend a NATO summit and a joint US-EU summit before then heading to Switzerland for a bilateral showdown with Mr Putin.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Mr Biden said that the trip is about ‘realising America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners’ as he attempts to build bridges with Britain and the EU after some leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel clashed with his predecessor.
Mr Trump engaged in a bitter trade row with the EU and slammed NATO members for failing to spend more on defense – sparking fears that he would pull the US out of the military alliance and embolden Russian activity in Ukraine and eastern Europe.
Mr Trump also formally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement – both negotiated by Barack Obama. One of Mr Biden’s first acts as President was to rejoin the climate accord and reopen nuclear talks with the Iranian government, as he sought to reverse the actions of the previous administration.
The White House has said that Mr Biden will meet with Mr Johnson to ‘affirm the special relationship between our nations’ – a term which the prime minister reportedly dislikes because it is ‘too needy’.
Whitehall is understood to have viewed the President’s decision to make the UK his first overseas destination as a major diplomatic victory for Mr Johnson.
The Prime Minister has lavished praise on Mr Biden since he won power in the election last year, in the hope of striking a new free trade deal with the US.
However, there are concerns that he and the President may not get along, after Democratic sources previously questioned whether Johnson was an ‘ally’.
Mr Johnson had sought close relations with Mr Trump, causing Mr Biden to call him a ‘physical and emotional clone’ of the controversial Republican president.
Mr Johnson faced fierce domestic criticism over his relationship with Mr Trump, but has defended the ties and has insisted that prime ministers should always have the ‘best possible’ ties with sitting US presidents.
There has also been speculation Mr Johnson and Mr Biden could struggle to work together because of the Prime Minister’s past criticism of Barack Obama, in whose administration Biden served as vice president.
Mr Biden is also expected to put pressure on the UK not to renege on the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol in a bid to preserve the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. US concerns about the province’s trade status could even derail efforts to strike an Anglo-US trade deal.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the BBC: ‘President Biden believes and has said that the Northern Ireland Protocol, as part of the agreement between the UK and the European Union, is critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected.
‘That being said, of course the UK and EU need to work out the specifics and the modalities on that, need to find some way to proceed that works both for the EU and the UK. But whatever way they find to proceed must, at its core, fundamentally protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and not imperil that.
‘And that is the message that President Biden will send when he is in Cornwall.’
However, there were positive signs in March of the ‘special relationship’ warming up after Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry visited London for talks with Mr Johnson. The positive trend continued in May when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington has ‘no closer partner’ than the UK.