A message from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election win contains a hidden message congratulating President Donald Trump on a second term, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The message, posted on Twitter as an image a few hours after the US TV networks called the election for Biden, congratulates the president-elect on his election, and Harris “on her historic achievement”.
But the image, a simple white-on-black block of text, is more than it seems. A simple colour adjustment reveals a second message hidden in the background.
Above and behind the words “Joe Biden on his election”, the shadow of the words “Trump on” become faintly visible. Where the main message reads “the US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together”, the words “second term” appear. And below the words “shared priorities” is the phrase “on the future of this”.
The Guardian observed that the hidden text, first noted by the Guido Fawkes blog, “suggests that No 10 was preparing for the possibility of congratulating Donald Trump on a re-election long after it had become clear that Joe Biden was winning the count in key battleground states.”
A spokesperson for the UK government said the ghost message was merely the result of a technical error after preparing two messages in the event of either a Trump or Biden win:
“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.”
However, The Guardian noted that “the baffling decision to alter a pre-existing image rather than create an entirely new one, let alone to not then fully delete the original message, looks likely to create more friction between the UK government and the incoming administration.”