It should have been so simple – send the US president-elect a little message saying “very well done on your victory”.
And at first glance, it looks like Boris Johnson did just that.
But alas, this is 2020 and ineptitude, incompetence and downright shambolic behaviour daily stalk the corridors of Whitehall.
Despite very clearly and correctly being addressed to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, sharp-eyed social media users spotted the word “Trump” showing faintly in the background of the message.
This led to online speculation that No.10 had originally prepared a message to herald a Donald Trump win, only to replace it with one acknowledging the Democratic candidate’s success after US media outlets called the race for the former vice president on Saturday afternoon.
Downing Street’s explanation? The infamous “technical error”.
A government spokesperson said: “As you’d expect, two statements were prepared in advance for the outcome of this closely contested election.
“A technical error meant that parts of the alternative message were embedded in the background of the graphic.”
The situation was highlighted by the Guido Fawkes website which also noted faint words stating “the future” and “second term” buried in the tweet.
Trump, seen as an international ally of Johnson, has so far refused to concede defeat in the election.
Biden has insisted that maintaining peace in Northern Ireland is paramount to any post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.
The Foreign Office’s top diplomat Sir Philip Barton was questioned about the tweet blunder while appearing before MPs.
Chris Bryant, a Labour member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was an “own goal” and “everybody’s now commenting all around the world that the British Government couldn’t even work out who it was congratulating because they hadn’t deleted the original properly”.