Wednesday

18th May 2022

Biden threatens UK trade deal over Brexit shambles

  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with German chancellor Angela Merkel (Photo: state.gov)

Britain's US trade deal is in jeopardy if the UK endangers Northern Ireland peace over Brexit, US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said.

"We can't allow the [1998] Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit," Biden said on Wednesday (16 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"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," he added.

Biden spoke out during a visit by British foreign secretary Dominic Raab to Washington.

The Democrats' concern comes after the UK threatened to renege on its EU withdrawal agreement, risking the re-imposition of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in violation of the Good Friday accord

But for his part, the British top diplomat blamed the EU for the situation when he met US secretary of state Mike Pompeo the same day.

"The threat to the Good Friday Agreement ... has come from the EU's politicisation of the issue," Raab said.

"What we cannot have is the EU seeking to erect a regulatory border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain," he added, even though his own government had agreed to the withdrawal plan earlier.

"We've made clear our view of the importance of the Good Friday Agreement, we know the complexity of the situation and we've done what we can to provide assistance where we can," Pompeo said.

"In the end this will be a set of decisions with respect to this that the United Kingdom makes and I have great confidence that they will get this right," he added.

The US trade secretary, Robert Lighthizer, also said he believed the US and UK could clinch a "win-win deal" on trade.

Britain used to trade with America under the auspices of EU-brokered trade arrangements.

And the prospect of securing more favourable terms after Brexit on the basis of the UK-US 'special relationship' was a big promise by Raab's government.

But Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, which must pass Raab's transatlantic trade pact, echoed Biden's warning.

"If the UK violates its international agreements and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress," she said in a statement after also having met Raab in the US capital on Wednesday.

"The Good Friday Agreement is the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland and a beacon of hope for peace-loving people throughout the whole world," Pelosi said.

About 33 million Americans identify as being Irish, in a significant constituency ahead of the US elections in November.

And four congressmen, three Democrats and one Republican, who chair House committees, said the same as Biden and Pelosi in a joint letter on Tuesday, indicating broader support for the hardline stance.

"We ... urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the [EU] withdrawal agreement," they said.

EU warns London over undermining Brexit agreement

While a new internal market bill reported to "override" the legal force of the Brexit withdrawal agreement on critical issues, the UK government also set a surprise 15 October deadline to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration

"No significant progress" has been made on the latest round of talks between the UK and EU on how their relationship should look from January, according to Michel Barnier. The EU told UK to stick to its prior commitments.

Opinion

If Biden wins tonight, this is what EU can expect

If Joe Biden is elected tonight, there will be a sigh of relief in most European capitals. However, that should not blind us to the fact that the Biden presidency will not be a walk in the park for Europeans.

Feature

The real story why 'bonkers Brussels' went bananas

For over two decades, British tabloids have blamed faceless EU bureaucrats for creating rules to ban bendy bits of fruit. The truth is far more outrageous - it probably was the French.

UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland

The EU warning comes after the UK government escalated the conflict over the Northern Ireland protocol — a set of post-Brexit trade rules — by saying it will unilaterally pass a law to change the EU-UK trade treaty.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

Opinion

Is EU 'Horizon' science funding going towards Pegasus spyware?

MEPs have raised questions about the involvement of the EU — through its funding — in the development of the Israeli NSO Pegasus software, directly or indirectly, which has been used to target activists and journalists in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  2. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  3. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato
  4. Poland backs Hungary over frozen 'rule of law' EU funds
  5. EU to reduce size and scope of Mali military mission
  6. Band members testify about Bataclan attack
  7. German prosecutors want five years for alleged ex-Nazi guard
  8. UN urges Iran to halt execution of Swedish-Iranian academic

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  2. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  3. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses
  4. UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland
  5. Rescue crew face 20 years jail for saving migrants
  6. Roma refugees from Ukraine face Czech xenophobia
  7. EU not doing enough to help Ukraine, Yellen says
  8. MEPs raise ambition on EU carbon market reform

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us