Joe Biden has said he would not let the peace in Northern Ireland to become a “casualty of Brexit” if he is elected US President in November.
Mr. Biden said that any UK-US trade deal had to be “contingent” on respect for the Good Friday Agreement. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom has been trying to reassure US politicians about the latest Brexit developments during a trip to Washington.
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State said that he trusted the United Kingdom to “get this right”.
However, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States said that there was “no chance” of a UK-US trade deal getting through the US Congress if the UK violated international agreements, undermining the Good Friday Agreement.
At the end of the meeting with Mr. Raab, the Speaker of the House of Representatives said the UK’s exit from the EU could not be allowed to “imperil” peace in Northern Ireland.
In the Washington meetings, Brexit is high on the agenda, after the Internal Market Bill cleared its first parliamentary hurdle earlier in the week. The proposed bill would give the UK government the power to override part of the Brexit withdrawal deal which Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the EU last October.
This law now faces further scrutiny in the House of Commons, and also needs to be passed by the House of Lords. The enforcement of this law would breach international law – a prospect that prompted an angry response from senior figures in the US last week.
A similar warning was also issued by four senior congressmen on Tuesday, saying that a UK-US trade deal would be blocked if the UK failed to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.
Through a letter to Mr. Boris Johnson, the four congressmen said that the plans to give ministers powers to override part of the UK’s exit agreement – designed to avoid a hard Ireland border – could have “disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement and broader process to maintain peace on the island of Ireland”.
“We, therefore, urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal agreement and look to ensure that Brexit negotiations to not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” the letter added.
The letter bore signatures of Democratic congressmen Richard Neal, Eliot Engel, and Bill Keating, who all chair committees in the US House of Representatives, as well as Republican Congressman Peter King.
At a joint UK-US press conference when asked about the bill the US secretary of state said: “We trust the UK, we know the complexities of the situation, I have great confidence they will get this right.”
The Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Mr. Dominic Raab said “the threat to the Good Friday Agreement comes from the EU’s politicization of the issue”.
The bill was defended by Mr. Rabb as “precautionary and proportionate” adding “what we can’t have is the EU seeking to erect a border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain”.
Earlier UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about the letter from US politicians and he said that I think when they understand what we are trying to do they will start to share our ambition and concern which is to protect the peace process.
Mr. Bruce Morrison told BBC Radio Ulster that this deal recognized the importance of the open border on the island of Ireland, and now some of that agreement is being taken back or sought to be taken back by unilateral action by the UK.
“Anything that says ‘well we made a deal once, but it’s inconvenient now and we’re going to recede from that agreement when Northern Ireland is at stake’ – we think that’s a threat,” he added.
The government plans are precautionary and proportionate in response to be described as threats from the EU to block food imports, Mr. Raab argued on Wednesday.
The UK Foreign Secretary also met Mr. Pompeo, amid continuing transatlantic tensions over Iran.
Mike Pompeo recently accused the United Kingdom and its European allies of “siding with the Ayatollahs” to block further United Nations sanctions on Iran.