Numerous world leaders have issued public statements of congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning the US presidential election, despite President Trump's plans to contest the results. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, long seen as a Trump ally, was one of the first world leaders to issue a statement to congratulate the Biden campaign. However, the statement that was posted to Twitter as an image appeared to be edited, and originally congratulated Donald Trump on his second term instead.
Many knowledgeable people who saw the message thought that something looked wrong with it, so they downloaded the image and began to look at its components. When adjusting the colors, the initial message comes through very clear. The discovery was initially made by the Guido Fawkes blog.
Above and behind the words “Joe Biden on his election”, the shadow of the words “Trump on” can be seen. Where the main message reads “the US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together”, the words “second term” are shown. And below the words “shared priorities” is the phrase “on the future of this”.
The sloppy image seems to indicate that Downing Street was initially preparing to congratulate Donald Trump on reelection, but then later just covered up the same image, instead of creating a new one.
Some sort of "glitch"? Either way, messy... pic.twitter.com/u328RxVCQC
— 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭 💢 𝑪𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒅 (@mattpannett) November 10, 2020
A UK government spokesperson acknowledged the mistake, saying that two statements were prepared in advance, and were shown together due to a technical error.
“As you’d expect, two statements were prepared in advance for the outcome of this closely contested election. A technical error meant that parts of the alternative message were embedded in the background of the graphic,” the spokesperson said, according to the Guardian.
The relationship between Joe Biden and Boris Johnson has already been on thin ice. Biden has described Johnson as the “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump.”
Tommy Vietor, a former Obama speechwriter who worked closely with the Biden campaign, was not impressed with Johnson's congratulatory post, calling him a "shapeshifting creep."
“This shapeshifting creep weighs in. We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump but neat Instagram graphic,” Vietor tweeted in response to the statement.
Johnson's social media team appeared to have fixed the problem as of Tuesday.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 7, 2020
This week, Joe Biden called Boris Johnson and the leaders of other major European countries.
In a statement, Biden's office said that they intended to strengthen the historic "special relationship" between the two countries and "redouble co-operation."
A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister had "warmly congratulated" Biden and "conveyed his congratulations" to Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.
"They discussed the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead, in areas such as trade and security - including through Nato.The prime minister and president-elect also looked forward to working closely together on their shared priorities, from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy, and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic," the No 10 spokesperson added.