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No US-UK trade deal if Boris Johnson ‘dumps’ protocol, says Pelosi

US Congress will not approve a free trade deal with Britain if Boris Johnson pushes ahead with a plan to “reject” the Northern Ireland Protocol, spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi has said.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives said it was “deeply concerning” that the UK government plans to unilaterally end protocol controls previously agreed with the EU.

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

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

However, the powerful US personality issued a stern rebuke. She said maintaining arrangements designed to ensure there is no hard border in Ireland was “absolutely necessary” to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is deeply concerning that the UK is now seeking to unilaterally scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement released on Thursday.

“Negotiated agreements like the Protocol preserve the important progress and stability created by the Good Friday Accords, which continue to enjoy strong bipartisan, bicameral support in the US Congress,” Ms. Pelosi added.

The US spokesman called on Mr Johnson’s government to resume “constructive, cooperative and good faith negotiations” with the EU to implement “a peacekeeping agreement”.

US President Joe Biden downplayed the prospect of a trade deal with Britain when he met Mr Johnson in September when the Prime Minister admitted: “Joe is busy.”

His government is understood to be reluctant to start talks on a comprehensive post-Brexit deal due to concerns over the ongoing row with the EU over Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson meets Nancy Pelosi in Washington in September 2021

(PA)

Ms Truss announced earlier this week that legislation would create new “Green Channel” lanes for goods traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland. Only goods destined for the Republic of Ireland would be subject to customs controls and other red tape.

The DUP is currently blocking the restoration of Stormont’s institutions in protest at the protocol, while Irish nationalist Sinn Féin is calling for the Union party to resume power-sharing arrangements.

It comes as Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the UK, said no “credible alternative” to the protocol had been identified – as he warned that unilateral action by the UK to suspend it would damage the deal could “nullify” altogether.

He revealed that the EU Commission’s negotiators have received clear instructions from the 27 member states that there can be no change in their mandate and no renegotiation.

No 10 calls for more flexibility from the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Maros Sefcovic, on Britain’s demands to cut commodity controls, with a promise to introduce override legislation soon if Britain’s demands are not met.

Speaking at a luncheon in Westminster today, Mr Vale de Almeida said: “It is not very reassuring to enter a negotiation where you are given two options – either negotiations or unilateral action to suspend the treaty.”

Echoing Mr Johnson’s claim that he wanted to “fix the protocol, not nothing,” the ambassador said: “This is not the best way to fix it, it’s more of a way maybe fix it.

Mr Vale de Almeida added: “If we want to fix the problem – which we want and I understand that the government wants that too – we need to create a better atmosphere.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-us-trade-deal-protocol-b2083179.html No US-UK trade deal if Boris Johnson ‘dumps’ protocol, says Pelosi

Bobby Allyn

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