Biden and Johnson Agree on a New Atlantic Charter

June 11, 2021 Updated: June 11, 2021


Leaders from the seven richest nations in the world that make up the G7—China is still not considered an advanced economy—are meeting this weekend in the UK.

Prime minister Boris Johnson chose Carbis Bay on the Cornish coastline as the location to host this year’s gathering since his other priority was to launch a new Atlantic Charter between America and the UK, before the G7 conference had officially begun.

He told reporters prior to Thursday’s meeting, “The agreements President Biden and I will make, rooted as they are in our shared values and outlook, will form the foundation of a sustainable global recovery. Eighty years ago, the US president and the British prime minister stood together promising a better future. Today we do the same.”

The original Atlantic Charter was agreed between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on the 14th of August 1941 off the coast of Newfoundland. This was four months before Pearl Harbour, so America was not even at war, but it was part of Churchill’s efforts to get the United States involved, and he was even willing to risk being sunk by German U-boats to get there.

Considering Britain was then standing alone against the combined might of the axis powers, it was an incredible act of foresight and optimism.

There were eight clauses in the charter. After the war, the United States and UK would: not seek territorial gains; not change boundaries without people’s consent, not erect trade barriers for either victors or vanquished, promote people’s right to self-determination, support global economic and social advancement, work for a world free of want and fear, enable freedom of the seas, and call for common disarmament.

It is now credited with leading to the formation of the UN, NATO and GATT (The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade). Through its call for self-determination, it would eventually lead to the end of the British Empire, though this was not Churchill’s intention.

To unveil Atlantic Charter II, all Mr. Johnson had to do was travel 300 miles from London to Cornwall. He chose to use a jet plane rather than the train, and then took part in discussions on reducing CO2 levels.

Climate change is one of eight themes in the new Atlantic charter alongside resuming U.K.-U.S. travel, boosting trade, strengthening global security, technology cooperation, tackling cyberattacks, protecting biodiversity and aiding global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns. It reads like a stopgap for the trade deal the Prime minister has so far failed to get with two U.S. administrations.

After their initial get together, Mr. Johnson claimed, “There’s so much that they want to do together with us, from security, NATO, to climate change,” and added there was “complete harmony” with Biden over Northern Ireland. But this does not mean complete agreement as Biden strongly opposes what he sees as Britain’s attempts to jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement.

Recent British attempts to correct the misjudgement Johnson made by moving the EU-UK customs border between Northern & Southern Ireland to the Irish Sea, led the Biden administration to send a strongly worded diplomatic complaint, a démarche, to Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, expressing “great concern.”

Whereas the first charter inadvertently led to the break-up of the British Empire, could this one inadvertently lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom itself? Moving the border has left Northern Ireland on the EU’s side fueling both Unionist anger there and nationalist demands that Scotland should also be able to stay within the EU framework.

Eighty-years on since the first charter was agreed, the geo-political situation has changed significantly. The UK is not the global political force it once was, and the Atlantic is being replaced by the Pacific rim as the most significant area for global influence and trade, so what impact will the new charter have compared to its predecessor?

Johnson is hoping that showing leadership on climate change will increase the UK’s stature post-Brexit, that is provided the theory doesn’t get debunked by science or time itself.

There is no doubt the global establishment believes anthropogenic global warming (AGW) poses an even more lasting danger that the Axis powers did in 1941. Signing America back into the Paris Agreement has given Biden near messianic status in Europe. But although Boris Johnson was one of the first leaders to congratulate him on being named president, Biden has not changed his pro-EU views and dislike of Brexit.

Roosevelt and Churchill also had their differences, especially on the dangers of communism and dealing with Joseph Stalin. The British historian, Paul Johnson, writes that in 1942, FDR’s naïve assessment of Stalin was that: “If I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of Democracy and peace.”

FDR berated Churchill for questioning the dictator’s motives: “You have 400 hundred years of acquisitive instincts, and you just don’t understand that a country might not want to acquire land somewhere if they can get it.”

In 2019 Mr. Biden told an audience in Iowa, “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man …. They’re not bad folks …. They are not competition for us.”

During his first press conference as president he said: “I’ve known Xi Jinping for a long time. Allegedly, by the time I left office as Vice President, I had spent more time with him than any world leader.”

He added, “I have told him on several occasions that I will not be looking for confrontation.” This will not have helped the people of Taiwan, Hong Kong, China’s Uyghur Muslims, Christians and other persecuted believers, sleep any easier.

At the end of WWII, FDR gave the predatory Stalin a green light to start annexing Eastern Europe by announcing that all American forces would be withdrawn from Europe in two years. When 1947 came, Churchill was no longer in power, but he still felt he needed to travel to Fulton, Missouri to deliver a wake-up call to America, saying: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain is descending across Europe.”

Johnson is no Churchill, so this time America will have to work out for itself how best to deal with a much more powerful communist adversary.

Andrew Davies is a UK-based video producer and writer. His award-winning video on underage sex abuse helped Barnardos children’s charity change UK law, while his documentary “Batons, Bows and Bruises: A History of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,” ran for six years on the Sky Arts Channel. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.