Joe Biden isn’t senile, insists Keir Starmer as stars join calls for president to quit race

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that Joe Biden is not senile as he leapt to the president’s defence amid growing calls for him to step aside from the US election race.

The prime minister had his first bilateral meeting 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 by Brexit to the special relationship.

But it came after actor George Clooney wrote an article in The New York Times urging Biden not to run against Donald Trump in November, while fellow Hollywood star Michael Douglas said it would be “hard to imagine” Biden serving his full term as president even if he is re-elected.

Starmer and Biden met yesterday at Nato (Getty)
Starmer and Biden met yesterday at Nato (Getty)

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 a huge number of issues at pace. [The president] 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.”

In his article, Clooney wrote: “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.”

His intervention has followed a number of representatives on Capitol 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 directly 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 really pleased to have the opportunity to be clear about a special relationship and about our longstanding commitment to Nato at this really important time.”