Boris Johnson displayed Churchillian confidence as he faced Joe Biden – but it failed to win over the President who played his cards close to his chest, body language expert reveals
- Body language expert Judi James said Boris Johnson appeared ‘confident’
- President Biden appeared to ‘play his cards close to his chest’ and was less open
- The leaders held a meeting in front of press at the Oval Office in White House
Boris Johnson adopted Churchillian confidence as he met with his US counterpart Joe Biden who instead appeared to ‘play his cards close to his chest’, a behaviour expert said.
Judi James, a leading communication and body language expert, said Mr Johnson displayed a sense of confidence with a ‘hint of stability and resilience’ as he sat down to speak with the US President in the Oval Office at the White House last night.
Meanwhile President Biden appeared to display a ‘slightly less open approach’ as he sat next to the premier with his legs and fingers crossed.
During the meeting, Mr Johnson appeared to mount the charm offensive as he told Mr Biden that he took an Amtrak train from New York and people ‘love you’ – a reference to the president’s famous fondness for commuting by rail that earned him the nickname ‘Amtrack Joe’.
The pair also enthused about the need for more action to tackle climate change, after the US announced a major boost in funding earlier.
However while the power signals between the two leaders looked ‘more evenly-balanced’ compared to their meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall there were subtle hints that there might be ‘slightly less tolerance beneath Biden’s eye-smiles’, according to Ms James.
Boris Johnson adopted a ‘confident’ Churchillian pose as he met with Joe Biden at the White House, according to body language expert Judi James
The Prime Minister placed one hand on each thigh to emphasise that hint of stability and resilience, although he at times did look like a ‘slightly nervous schoolboy’
Meanwhile President Biden appeared to suggest a ‘slightly less open approach’ as he sat next to the premier with his legs and fingers crossed.
Ms James told MailOnline: ‘Masked and seated side by side there were none of the body language dramas that we saw at the G7, where Macron was on hand to suck-up royally to the President, who in turn treated Boris to a volley of power-pats to show him who was in charge.
‘At this meeting the power signals between the two leaders looked more evenly-balanced, with Boris adopting a Churchillian pose, sitting solid and symmetric in his chair with his legs splayed to suggest confidence.
‘He placed one hand on each thigh to emphasise that hint of stability and resilience, although his habit of re-straightening his tie or scribbling furious notes while Biden spoke did at times make him look like a slightly nervous schoolboy called to the head’s office.’
While Mr Johnson took an ‘open’ and ‘positive-looking’ stance, it failed to win over the US President who ‘might have had less confidence than the PM in some of his plans.’
Ms James continued: ‘It was Biden doing the jokes at this meeting while Boris unusually played the straight guy.
‘Joe sat with his legs crossed and his notes on his lap to suggest a slightly less open approach and when Boris spoke he crossed his fingers and even widened and rolled his eyes to suggest he might have had less confidence than Boris in some of his plans.’
Later the dynamic between the pair changed and they both appeared to form a ‘body language double act’.
The body language expert said: ‘But with his noted rolled up, Biden became jovial and expansive, telling a long and presumably funny story that verbally got lost in his mask.
The US President crossed his fingers and even widened and rolled his eyes to suggest he might have had less confidence than Boris in some of his plans
But Ms James went on to say that despite the rapport between both leaders, Mr Biden’s body language suggested ‘slightly less tolerance’
The dynamic between the pair changed later as they both appeared to form a ‘body language double act’
‘He was animated and his eye-smile did suggest a certain fondness for the PM, who he then formed a bit of a body language double act with as they took questions from the press.
‘Boris pointed at the press and Biden pointed at Boris. All looked jolly enough apart from one ‘tell’ from Biden.’
But Ms James went on to say that despite the rapport between both leaders, Mr Biden’s body language suggested ‘slightly less tolerance’.
She added: ‘Despite the apparent rapport, Biden’s right hand clenched and unclenched into a fist while Boris was talking.
‘It was a small gesture but it did look at odds with all the good-humour, suggesting there might be slightly less tolerance beneath Biden’s eye-smiles.
‘Put together with the crossed legs and more concealed notes on his lap the suggestion might be that the President is still playing his cards quite close to his chest, as opposed to our more open and positive-looking PM.’
During his meeting Mr Johnson hailed Mr Biden’s announcement at the UN general assembly that the US climate change finance will be doubled to $11.4billion per year, or £8.3billion.
No10 was also delighted that the American administration has finally eased the draconian travel restrictions on Britons crossing the Atlantic, in a surprise step yesterday.
During the meeting, Mr Johnson appeared to mount the charm offensive as he told Mr Biden that he took an Amtrak train from New York
However, Mr Johnson had to navigate some tricky moments, including having to defend the US decision to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban- something that caused fury in the UK and friction between the two governments.
Earlier in the day, Mr Johnson described how the two government were ‘cooperating at a higher and more intense level than at anytime I can remember’ as he held talks with Vice President Kamala Harris at her offices in the Eisenhower building.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Madame Vice President it’s a great honor and privilege for me to be here to meet you for the first time.
‘I’ve heard a lot about you but it’s fantastic to be here and I want to thank the US government, your government, for the many ways in which we are cooperating now I think at a higher and more intense level than at anytime I can remember.
‘I want to signal out the amazing work, the brave work, of the US military is helping the Kabul airlift. We could always done that without US leadership and I’m grateful for that.’
He also expressed gratitude for the new travel rules announced yesterday.
‘That’s great, that’s an improvement on the previous arrangements and thank you for your hard work on that,’ he added.
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