The UK prime minister’s congratulatory address to Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on their win in the US presidential election has been found to contain a hidden message: it appears Downing Street could have anticipated until the very last moment that Donald Trump would win re-election.
somewhat unbelievably, there really is a hidden message congratulating Trump just about visible underneath the graphic Boris Johnson tweeted congratulating Biden on his win. I have no idea why Downing Street just didn't start a new image, or why they are so bad at Photoshop pic.twitter.com/RLY0SV0680— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) November 10, 2020
The message, posted on Twitter as a white-on-black image a few hours after major US media outlets declared Biden the winner, congratulates the projected president-elect on winning the presidency and Harris “on her historic achievement”, but it also features the barely visible words “Trump on”.
Where the main message goes “the US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together”, the words “second term” could be discerned. And below the words “shared priorities” is the faintly visible phrase “on the future of this”.
The hidden messages were first reported by the Guido Fawkes blog and were largely seen as indicators that No 10 was bracing for the possibility of congratulating Donald Trump on re-election, although it remains unclear if this was before or after Joe Biden was projected to win the count in key battleground states, albeit by a slim margin.
A UK government spokesman has commented on the issue, saying that two statements were prepared in advance “for the outcome of this closely contested election” and blaming the visual controversy on a technical glitch:
“A technical error meant that parts of the alternative message were embedded in the background of the graphic”, the spokesperson was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
The glitch comes amid a relationship already mired by Joe Biden’s scepticism towards the British prime minister: he has previously called Johnson a “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump” and allies of the new Democratic administration have dropped a number of scathing remarks about Downing Street.
In particular, Biden, who has Irish roots, has lately expressed negative views on the UK’s plans to override parts of the agreement with the EU by passing the Internal Markets Bill concerning goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland, unless a deal is reached with the bloc.