Joe Biden ally wants to ‘convince’ UK government to drop protocol plan

Liz Truss faces a showdown meeting with a close ally of US President Joe Biden on Saturday amid international efforts to prevent the British government from suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Foreign Secretary and International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will hold talks with Congressman Richard Neal in London. who said he would urge UK ministers against a unilateral “breach” of the Brexit deal.

It follows a warning from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the US Congress would not approve a trade deal if Britain goes ahead with a plan to “reject” the protocol.

Mr Neal, who arrived in Brussels on Friday as part of a nine-member Congress delegation, also said Mr Johnson should honor all parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement he signed in 2010.

“They haven’t broken through yet. They’re talking about violating it, so part of my job is trying to convince them not to violate it,” the top Democrat said The guard.

“The broader event here is that the protocol has been duly negotiated by the British Prime Minister,” he said Politically. “It’s an international agreement that should be respected.”

“It will not be the words of the UK – it will be their actions,” he added. “I don’t think Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern elections [of Ireland] should be held hostage by a disagreement between Britain and the European Union.”

It comes as a senior US State Department official said the Biden administration does not want to see “unilateral action” with the protocol dispute – and warned the row could undermine Western unity during the Ukraine war.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken’s adviser, Derek Chollet, told the BBC that a “major battle between the UK and the EU” was “the last thing” Washington wanted. “We want this issue to be resolved and we want the temperature to come down and no unilateral action,” he said.

Mr Neal and other members of the US Congress are also due to meet Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Trade Secretary Nick Thomas Symonds on Saturday to discuss the Brexit row and the political impasse in Northern Ireland.

The American delegation is also expected to travel to Belfast in the coming days to meet with Sinn Fein and DUP leaders and visit Dublin for talks with the Irish government.

Mr Johnson and Ms Truss have insisted they do not plan to tear up the protocol entirely, but aim to unilaterally ‘fix’ it through new legislation to invalidate parts of the deal with Brussels.

The Foreign Secretary said earlier this week the legislation would create a “green channel” for goods traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland. Only goods destined for the Republic of Ireland would be subject to customs controls.

Ms Pelosi said on Thursday she had previously warned Mr Johnson and Ms Truss that Congress “cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with Britain” if they choose to “undermine” the Good Friday Agreement.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Ms Pelosis’ intervention in the protocol dispute was “unhelpful” – but Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill “warmly welcomed” the senior US figure’s comments.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin addresses the media after talks with Sinn Fein and the DUP

(PA)

Both leaders met with Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland Micheal Martin in Belfast on Friday for talks as the impasse over power-sharing arrangements in Stormont continued.

Mr Martin urged the DUP to help form the Northern Ireland executive as soon as possible, even if the union party wanted to have “parallel discussions” on the protocol.

The Irish Prime Minister said it was “outrageous” for a parliament not to meet after a democratic election, adding: “We cannot have a situation where one political party determines that the other political parties cannot meet in a parliament .”

Mr Martin also accused the UK government of going “unilaterally too far” on the protocol. He called for new talks between the UK and the EU, saying it would mean “going into the tunnel and negotiating seriously”.

He told the BBC: “I spoke to Boris Johnson and I have to get straight to the point, this idea that the European Union is kind of inflexible in that regard is just not the truth – it can’t be done.”

But Sir Jeffrey said he had told the Irish Prime Minister that he was not interested in a “stick-on” approach to solving border control problems.

“It has to be a fundamental change that respects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market and nothing less than that will suffice,” said the DUP leader.

British Ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnson downplayed concerns that Britain would never settle for changes to the protocol.

He, the Government, wants something that is “sustainable, has broader support and does not make the protocol a key issue in Northern Ireland politics,” adding: “We want to achieve a sustainable end date.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/biden-brexit-protocol-northern-ireland-b2083895.html Joe Biden ally wants to ‘convince’ UK government to drop protocol plan

Bobby Allyn

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