A delegation of senior US politicians is expected to visit the UK for talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol amid growing signs in Washington of concern over Boris Johnson’s threats to tear up parts of the deal.
The visit comes amid growing expectations that Mr Johnson will table next week legislation unilaterally suspending elements of the deal with the EU, which he negotiated and signed in 2019 but now he has accused of disrupting trade and threatening the Good Friday Agreement responsible.
The delegation of around half a dozen Congressmen is expected to meet in Brussels, Dublin, London and Belfast in the coming days as the standoff between the UK and the EU worsens.
It is chaired by Richie Neal, the influential chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which The Guardian says has significant power over future trade deals.
There have already been signs of American concern over Secretary of State Liz Truss’ increasingly belligerent tone in talks with the EU, with the White House this week urging both sides to “pursue dialogue to resolve differences”.
Two influential congressmen wrote to Ms Truss on Wednesday to warn her that a unilateral violation of the protocol “would constitute a direct violation of international law and directly threaten the Good Friday Agreement”.
In what was described as “irritated” on the phone on Thursday morning, Ms Truss told European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič that the UK had “no choice but to act” unless the EU accepted calls for an easing of lockdown Controls on goods moving between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Irish Sea customs border was agreed by Mr Johnson to ensure an open border between the Republic and the North but has disrupted the movement of goods – as many had warned at the time.
The unionized DUP refuses to rejoin power-sharing agreements at Stormont until the protocol is removed.
Mr Šefčovič said the EU would not respond to “threats and blackmail” from the UK and insisted the protocol was not up for renegotiation.
Downing Street has not set a deadline for EU relegation.
But Attorney General Suella Braverman said last night that while “a decision has yet to be made” in Cabinet – action is becoming “painful, apparently necessary”.
Ms Braverman has reportedly presented evidence accusing Brussels of undermining the Good Friday Agreement by erecting a trade barrier in the Irish Sea. She also warned of “social unrest” in the region.
But Ireland’s Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, said it was “complete, complete and absolutely wrong” to blame Brussels for any unrest.
The Attorney General’s assessment echoed that of the Prime Minister, who told reporters in Stoke-on-Trent the Protocol had become a “real problem” that needed to be “fixed” because the “institutions put in place under the Good Friday Agreement are not doing it are”. functioning’ and political governance in Northern Ireland has ‘collapsed’.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-protocol-northern-ireland-congress-b2078277.html Brexit: US delegation visits UK as Northern Ireland crisis deepens