BREXIT BRITAIN was proudly on show this afternoon as Boris Johnson took centre stage in a family photo of G7 ministers.
World leaders have descended on Carbis Bay in Cornwall this weekend for crunch talks on a range of issues. The summit is the first time many of the leaders have met in person for over a year, with the pandemic largely grounding planes across the globe.
With the family photo being taken outside, the elite group were able to ditch coronavirus face masks as they smiled for the camera.
However, in a clear reminder of the coronavirus threat that still faces the world, the leaders remained socially distanced throughout the official picture taking.
The pandemic will be the first major talking point for the G7, with leaders discussing how to “build back better” from coronavirus in the first session of the summit this afternoon.
Just six months after the end of the EU transition period, Mr Johnson is playing host for the conference, in a major boost for his vision of Global Britain.
Putting his stamp on the conference, the Prime Minister has also invited the leaders of Australia, South Korea, South Africa and India to participate in the G7 as he looks to build the “D11” alliance of democracies around the world.
A second family photo with the guest nations involved will take place tomorrow.
Mr Johnson and the newlywed Carrie Johnson greeted the G7 leaders and their partners on the beach individually ahead of the group picture.
Warm words appeared to be exchanged with each country’s representative as they arrived at the Tregenna Castle Hotel for talks.
The ambitious programme for the summit will include discussions on coronavirus, climate change, boosting the economy and promoting democratic values across the world.
Immediately after the family photo, the leaders made their way inside the hotel to hold talks on “building back better”.
Addressing the G7 leaders as he officially opened the international summit, Mr Johnson said it was “genuinely wonderful to see everybody in person”.
“I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. We’ve all been going through the most wretched pandemic our countries have faced for our lifetimes, maybe longer, much longer,” he added.
“I actually think this is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen because we need to make sure we learn the lessons from the pandemic, we need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.”
Striking an upbeat tone, he added: “We need to make sure that as we recover, we level up across our societies – we need to build back better.
“I actually think that we have a huge opportunity to do that, because as a G7 we are united in our vision for a cleaner, greener world.
“A solution to the problems of climate change in all those ideas, in those technologies, that we’re all addressing.
“Together I think there is a potential to generate many, many millions of high wage, high skilled jobs and I think that is what the people of our countries now want us to focus on.”
As well as tackling international issues, leaders at the G7 will hold a series of bilateral meetings to discuss how to build closer ties between their countries.
Brexit is set to dominate Mr Johnson’s talks with Mr Macron, Ms Merkel, Ms von der Leyen and Mr Michel.
Ahead of the official family photo this afternoon, France’s President shared a picture of the EU leaders all in discussion.
In a clear hint the group are planning to stick together in their individual discussions with the UK, the caption accompanying Mr Macron’s tweet read: “As always, the same union, the same determination to act, the same enthusiasm! The G7 can begin.”
Issues over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol have continued to put a strain on relations between London and Brussels since the end of the transition period at the end of last year.
The mechanism means bureaucratic paperwork is required on some goods travelling to Northern Ireland from Britain.
The EU is accusing the UK of failing to properly implement the Protocol, while Britain says it has been forced to temporarily ease requirements under the deal to protect the UK’s internal market.
Brussels had been hoping to persuade Joe Biden to put pressure on the UK over the Protocol during the G7.
However, following talks between the US President and Mr Johnson yesterday, No10 said the two leaders agreed both Britain and Brussels had a duty to fix the problems caused by the Protocol.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister and President both reaffirmed their commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and to protecting the gains of the peace process.
“The leaders agreed that both the EU and the UK had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.”