Joe Biden has ruled out any future trade accord between the US and the UK if Westminster does not respect the Good Friday Agreement, in the latest ramping up of concerns from US Democrats over Boris Johnson’s proposal to override the Withdrawal Agreement he brokered with the EU.
In a tweet, the former vice president and current presidential candidate said: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.
“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
Mr Biden’s concerns echo those of house Democrats, who have been vocal in their opposition to a trade accord between the two countries if the UK acts in a way that it believes will undermine the peace in Northern Ireland.
Any trade agreement between Washington and Westminster would require the Democrat-controlled House’s approval before being passed.
The UK government is currently clashing with the EU over the Internal Markets Bill – a piece of legislation that the government has admitted will break international law and allow the government to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed between Westminster and Brussels.
On Tuesday, the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee said it was “disturbed” to hear reports of Mr Johnson’s “efforts to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol”.
In a letter to the prime minister, the committee said: “Many in the United States and in Congress consider the issues of the Good Friday Agreement and a potential US-UK Free Trade Agreement inextricably linked”, adding that if the UK governments reported plans went ahead it would be “difficult to see” how its conditions for a future accord would be met.
They concluded: “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 do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland and future options for the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”
Meanwhile, last week Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, said there was “absolutely no chance” of an agreement if the UK breached the protocol, adding in later comments “How do you walk away from an international agreement?”.
She said in a statement: “Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the stability brought by the invisible and frictionless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.
“The UK must respect the Northern Ireland Protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border.
“If the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress.
“The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress.”