Joe Biden not senile insists Keir Starmer as calls grow for US president to quit race

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Louise Thomas

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that Joe Biden is not senile as he leapt to the defence of the beleaguered US president amid growing calls for him to step aside as the Democrat’s candidate in November.

The new prime minister had his first bilateral with the president in the White House on Wednesday in what proved to be a friendly meeting of political allies which both sides hope will mend the damage done to the special relationship by Brexit.

But it came after actor George Clooney had written an article in the New York Times calling on Biden not to run against Donald Trump in November.

Starmer and Biden met yesterday at Nato

Starmer and Biden met yesterday at Nato (Getty Images)

Concerns have intensified over Biden’s health after his first presidential election debate with Trump last month on CNN where the president looked confused and in poor health.

Sir Keir was challenged directly by the BBC if he believed the president “is senile”.

The prime minister responded: “No.”

He pointed out that their meeting had been scheduled for 45 minutes but went on longer because there was so much for the two men to discuss.

He said: “We had a really good bilateral yesterday we were billed at 45 minutes we went on for the better part of an hour. We went through huge number of issues at pace. He was actually on really good form. And absolutely across all the detail.

“We were going at pace through a number of issues, which was really important to me because obviously it was my first opportunity to have a bilateral and he showed incredible leadership.”

He went on: “And if there's one thing that came out of the council session yesterday, it was a clear understanding here that we face more threats now that we've faced for many years, and that we need the resolve of Nato as the alliance that's been there for a very long time, that defensive alliance, and president Biden has led through some of the most challenging issues actually that we are facing globally.”

Sir Keir was quizzed about the president’s mental health after Clooney wrote in the New York Times: “I love Joe Biden. As a senator. As a vice president and as president. I consider him a friend, and I believe in him.”

But, he added that the Biden he saw during a 15 June Democrat fundraiser “was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

The Hollywood star’s intervention has followed a number of representatives on Capital Hill also calling on the president to step aside.

However, Biden has insisted that he will not quit as the Democrat candidate and blamed travel for his poor performance in the debate.

Responding to Clooney’s comments, Sir Keir said: “Well, as I say we covered a lot of ground, strategic plans, national stuff and not just Ukraine. He was good form and of course, you know, various interventions yesterday.

“We went straight from that to the dinner that he hosted. So I was actually really pleased to have the opportunity to be clear about a special relationship and about our long standing commitment to NATO at this really important time.”

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