Joe Biden 'removes bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office'
Fury as Joe Biden ‘REMOVES bust of Boris Johnson’s hero Winston Churchill from the Oval Office’ and replaces it with Latino American civil rights activist – as Number 10 insists it is up to him ‘how he decorates’
- Reports suggest new US President Joe Biden has removed bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office
- Bust was removed by Barack Obama in a move which Boris Johnson previously said may have been a ‘snub’
- The well-known sculpture was then reinstated when Donald Trump became US president back in 2016
- The Prime Minister’s Spokesman insisted it is ‘up to the President to decorate’ the Oval Office ‘as he wishes’
- But Tory MPs are concerned removal could be a message to the EU that the US is now ‘less worried’ about UK
Downing Street today insisted it is up to Joe Biden how he decorates the Oval Office after the new US President appeared to have removed a bust of Sir Winston Churchill.
The same bust was also removed by Barack Obama when he took office in a move which Boris Johnson, who counts the wartime leader as one of his heroes, previously suggested could be viewed as a ‘snub’ to the UK.
The item was then reinstated by Donald Trump when he moved in but Mr Biden has apparently opted to get rid of it again.
Number 10 this afternoon sidestepped the question of whether it is a ‘snub’ as the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘The Oval Office is the President’s private office and it is up to the President to decorate it as he wishes.’
The spokesman added: ‘We are in no doubt about the importance President Biden puts on the US-UK relationship.’
The decision sparked concern among some Tory MPs who suggested it could be a message to the EU that the US is now ‘less worried’ about the UK.
The new US President Joe Biden’s revamped Oval Office does not appear to include the famous bust of Sir Winston Churchill
The bust was removed from the Oval Office by Barack Obama in 2009 before it was subsequently reinstated by Donald Trump
Mr Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office. Framed pictures of his loved ones from left to right show the Biden family, late son Beau with his son Hunter in 2009, Biden and First Lady Dr Jill at the Home States Ball in 2009, a family picture of Joe, Jill and their children, a picture of the president with his daughter, the president’s three children
The Washington Post first reported the bust had been removed after the newspaper was given an advance tour of the revamped office.
Each incoming US president is free to redecorate the Oval Office however they see fit.
Mr Biden’s revamp included installing a bust of Cesar Chavez, the Latino American civil rights activist, as well as an array of family photos.
Also represented in sculptures are civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
One Tory MP told MailOnline the Churchill bust is a ‘symbol of the Special Relationship’.
They said: ‘I doubt these things are done without a reason. It could be a message to the Europeans about being more pro-EU and being less worried about the UK.’
Another Tory MP said: ‘I don’t think we should read too much into it. It is not really surprising given that Obama took it down too. Ultimately they will know that the UK is the US’s strongest ally globally.’
The row over the removal of the bust came after Mr Johnson was asked whether he considered Mr Biden to be ‘woke’ – a suggestion made by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.
A visibly uncomfortable PM replied: ‘I can’t comment on that. What I know is that he’s a firm believer in the transatlantic alliance and that’s a great thing,’ the Prime Minister told reporters on Wednesday.
‘There’s nothing wrong with being woke but what I can tell you is that I think it’s very, very important for everybody to… I certainly put myself in the category of people who believe that it’s important to stick up for your history, your traditions and your values, the things you believe in.’
The bust of Churchill, created by the sculptor Jacob Epstein, was given to George W. Bush by Tony Blair.
It was removed from the Oval Office by Mr Obama in 2009. A separate bust of the wartime leader remained on display elsewhere in the White House.
The original was then restored to the Oval Office by Mr Trump, with the then-president famously posing in front of it alongside Theresa May during her visit to Washington in 2017.
Mr Trump famously posed in front of the bust alongside Theresa May in 2017 during her visit to Washington
Mr Johnson previously wrote that the removal of the bust by Mr Obama may have been seen by some as a ‘snub to Britain’ or as a sign of an ‘ancestral dislike of the British Empire’ in comments which prompted a furious backlash from critics.
Mr Obama hit back in 2016 when he said he had a Churchill bust placed outside his private office on the second floor of his official residence.
‘Right outside the door of the Treaty Room, so that I see it every day – including on weekends when I’m going into that office to watch a basketball game – the primary image I see is a bust of Winston Churchill,’ he said.
‘It’s there voluntarily because I can do anything on the second floor. I love the guy.’
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