A Brexiteer has urged Joe Biden to acknowledge the flaws in the Northern Ireland Protocol and called for the Good Friday Agreement to be maintained, which he says both the US President and the UK support. The White House reported that Mr Biden will tell Prime Minister Liz Truss that she must work with the EU to reach a negotiating outcome on the protocol when they meet today.
The Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol has proved a contentious issue in post-Brexit negotiations with the EU, with Ms Truss threatening to unilaterally tear up parts of the deal during her tenure as Foreign Secretary.
Tory MP John Redwood urged unity between Ms Truss and Mr Biden, saying: “The President of the US needs to understand that the NI Protocol undermines the Good Friday Agreement that he and the UK support. He should help us bring GB back into NI trade and respect the UK internal market.”
The NI Protocol works by allowing goods to travel freely across the NI-Republic of Ireland border in order to uphold the terms of the highly sensitive Good Friday Agreement. However, there are still controls on goods entering NI from the UK, effectively creating a border within the UK in the Irish Sea.
That limit was something Boris Johnson had promised voters would only happen “over”. [his] dead body” in 2019 – before signing it into law as part of his Brexit deal in 2020. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Mr Biden would discuss the protocol “in detail” during his meeting with Ms Truss.
He said the President would “encourage the UK and the European Union to work out an effective outcome that will ensure the fundamental principles of the Good Friday Agreement are not jeopardized”.
Mr Sullivan added: “And he’s going to talk to her about it at length”.
He said Mr Biden would “express his strong view that the Good Friday Agreement – which is the touchstone of peace and stability in Northern Ireland – must be protected. And we must take steps together – the US, the UK, the parties in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland – to ensure it is protected.”
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The UK is trying to scrap the physical controls on farm produce and other goods that are part of the current shape of the Brexit deal. The NI Protocol Bill is currently in its second reading in the House of Lords, having successfully passed the House of Commons.
If passed in full, it will allow the UK to tear up part of the NI protocol. The EU and other critics say it will be breaking international law by effectively dropping key parts of the Brexit deal signed by Boris Johnson and the EU in 2019.
It was originally submitted by Ms. Truss this summer. The bill threatens to further escalate tensions between the EU — and potentially the US, given Mr. Biden’s increasingly apparent stance on handling the NI Protocol.
Lord Darroch, who served as Britain’s ambassador to the US under Ms Truss’ three predecessors, told Sky News it was “absolutely certain” that the lack of progress in concluding a free trade deal with the US was linked to this.
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He said: “The Democratic Government has made this clear in briefings, there will be no trade deal unless we can sort through the protocol to the satisfaction of the EU and the Irish Government in particular, and it must not be unilaterally rewritten. “
Anglo-American relations have also deteriorated somewhat ahead of Ms Truss’s meeting with Mr Biden today after the US President criticized the new prime minister’s economic policies. Mr Biden said he was “tired of trickle-down economics” and claimed “it never worked”.
While the criticism was likely not aimed directly at Ms. Truss, it serves as a scathing assessment of the way many have described Ms. Truss’ strategy. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the “challenges” posed by China, the energy crisis and “US-UK economic relations” were also billed for today’s meeting.
Ms Truss told reporters on Tuesday: “There are no negotiations taking place with the US at this time and I do not expect them to start in the short to medium term.”