Boris Johnson tells Angela Merkel to 'mute' on first G7 call as PM meets Joe Biden virtually for 1st time

BORIS Johnson had to tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mute today as they took part in the first virtual G7 meetings.

And the PM and Joe Biden hit it off as they met virtually for the first time, with Boris successfully getting global leaders to cough up more cash to the international vaccine alliance.

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Mr Johnson kicked off the meeting by waving at those on screen, saying it was "great to see all of you".

But then the PM had to ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mute her phone.

"Can you hear us Angela? "the PM said, laughing as a German voice could be heard down the line.

He joked: "I think you need to mute!"

He said he hoped the group could meet face-to-face for the next G7 meeting, which is expected to take place in Cornwall in June.

He urged the group to work together on "building back better" from the pandemic – joking that the new US President had probably stolen the phrase from him.

Boris joked: "I think he may have nicked it from us but I certainly nicked it from somewhere else – probably some UN disaster relief programme."

Mr Biden could be seen laughing on the video call on the screen inside the Cabinet Room today as the pair's relationship appeared to get off to a good start.

This afternoon world leaders agreed to "intensify co-operation" on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and vowed to "build back better" together.

Mr Johnson called on them to step up their donations to the international vaccine alliance, COVAX, telling them: "We've got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it's no use one country being far ahead of another, we've got to move together."

The EU today pledged another 500million euros to the fund – taking the G7 total to $7.5 billion.

It came as:

  • The PM prepares to reveal his roadmap out of lockdown to the nation on Monday
  • Pfizer warned the South African variant could reduce the effectiveness of its jab by two-thirds
  • Tory MPs piled pressure. on Boris Johnson to go further and faster on lifting restrictions
  • Wales said it would bring more kids back to school from March 15, with moves to open non-essential shops and holiday lets by Easter

It came as new global polling from Ipsos finds seven in ten Britons (69 per cent) want to pass on some of our extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be used in other countries.

Generous Brits are more likely to want to do this than any other country polled. Globally, just under half say they would want their country to do this. 

The PM has vowed £500m to the alliance and promised to give millions of doses away around the world – but has yet to put a proper timetable on it.

Earlier Emmanuel Macron attempted to upstage the PM by demanding he starts dishing them out now – despite the EU's shambolic rollout being far behind target.

World leaders today agreed that "the world needs stronger defences against future risks to global health security" and vowed to work to boost the World Health Organisation and other international bodies to make sure they were prepared for any future pandemics – and vowed to "explore the potential value of a global health treaty."

The PM also used the G7 call to demand nations step up in the climate change fight, an issue he hopes to work together with the new US President on.

Britain is hosting the international UN Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November – a key moment on the world stage where he hopes to unite leaders into action.

World leaders welcomed the "need for a green, sustainable global recovery" and promised to "put our global ambitions on climate change and the reversal of biodiversity loss at the centre of our plans".

They vowed to "deliver a green transformation and clean energy transitions that cut emissions and create good jobs on a path to net zero no later than 2050" – as the PM has already committed to.

Earlier Boris said it was the "right moment" to come together and focus on it, after the world has been warned "time and time again".

He added: "We can't ignore it – the warnings have been even clearer than they were for Covid – and that is the problem of climate change, and that's why we're going to be working very hard to get some great things done at G7 on our plans for the Cop26 summit that we are holding along with our Italian friends in Glasgow in November."

The PM hailed the "great" news that Mr Biden had brought back the US into the Paris Climate Change Agreement today – hailing it as a "great step forward".

"It's great, by the way, that Joe (Biden) has brought the United States back into the Paris Climate Change Accords – a great step forward."

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