Fury as Joe Biden REMOVES bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office
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.
Nigel Farage, an ally of Mr Trump and the leader of the Reform UK party, said the removal of the bust showed the new US President will not be a 'great friend' to the UK.
He told the BBC: 'If that is confirmed it won't surprise me at all because Joe Biden is anti-Brexit. Joe Biden is pro-the European Union. Joe Biden is pro-the Irish nationalist cause.
'And Joe Biden was the vice president when Obama came here in 2016, looked down his nose at us and said if we dared to vote for independence we would go to the back of the queue. So don't expect Biden to be a great friend of this country, he won't be.'
Mr Farage added: 'I spoke to Trump three days after the election in 2016 and I asked him will you put the Churchill bust back in the Oval Office as a symbol of how he felt about the United Kingdom, how he felt about the things that over the last hundred years have done together and he put it back there first day.'
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, Rosa Parks, and Robert F. Kennedy.
Photographs of the Oval Office suggest that the bust of Churchill has been replaced by that of RFK.
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.
'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.'
Mr Johnson is keen to forge a close relationship with the new president, with some concerns his support for Brexit and Mr Trump may create friction.
He will hope he secures an early phone call with Mr Biden following his inauguration, but conversations are expected to start with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on Friday.
Mr Johnson was early among the list of leaders to speak to the Democrat after his electoral triumph over Mr Trump, but Number 10 was unable to say when their next call will be.
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 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 Winston Churchill. I love the guy.
'Now, when I was elected as President of the United States, my predecessor had kept a Churchill bust in the Oval Office.
'There are only so many tables where you can put busts otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered and I thought it was appropriate, and I suspect most people here in the United Kingdom might agree, that as the first African American president it might be appropriate to have a bust of Dr Martin Luther King in my office to remind me of all the hard work of a lot of people who would somehow allow me to have the privilege of holding this office.'
Mr Johnson's admiration for Churchill is well-known, with the PM having written a book detailing the life of the leader called 'The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History'.
The PM has also frequently quoted and channelled Churchill during his major speeches.
Last year he launched a passionate defence of the leader after his statue in Parliament Square in Westminster was sprayed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter protests.
Source: Daily Mail
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