President Biden under fire over $60bn Ukraine aid
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This week Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is responsible for negotiating protocol terms with the EU, threatened to take unilateral action to override the controversial trade deal signed in 2019. The UK Government wants to rearrange parts of the protocol, including removing the overseeing role of the European Courts of Justice and have fewer checks on good travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; both of which the EU has refused to consider.
While the Foreign Secretary has said the “preference remains a negotiated solution”, she still pressed forward with a bill to change parts of the Brexit agreement.
She said: “The Bill will contain an explicit power to give effect to a new, revised Protocol if we can reach an accommodation that meets our goal of protecting the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
“We remain open to a negotiated solution, but the urgency of the situation means we can’t afford to delay any longer.”
But Ms Truss’s declaration puts the UK at risk of being frozen out by the USA, which is committed to making sure peace remains in Northern Ireland.
The UK has been chasing the prospect of a free trade deal with the US since Brexit was finalised, but the states have been characteristically reluctant to move negotiations forward.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a leading Democrat, said Congress “cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement” with the UK if it undermines the arrangement.
The US administration has repeatedly warned the UK Government and Boris Johnson over the Good Friday Agreement, and action by Mr Johnson’s Government could kick the prospect of a US-UK post-Brexit trade deal into the long grass.
President Biden is very invested in keeping the all import peace agreement viable, given his own contributions to the peace process in the 1980s and 90s.
The President was in a group of senators in the 1980s who began pushing for greater US diplomatic involvement to end the conflict.
From his seat on the Senate foreign relations committee, he helped push the Clinton administration into committing resources to brokering the agreement in 1998.
In fact, American politicians across the political spectrum are dedicated to preserving peace on the island of Ireland.
Democrats and Republicans from the Friends of Ireland group in Congress have repeatedly signalled that the UK would destroy all hope of bagging a free trade deal with the US if Brexit put Irish peace into jeopardy.
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Brendan Boyle, a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and leading member of the Friends of Ireland group, said last year: “This is a highly partisan time in American politics, and there are very few issues, precious few, that are truly bipartisan.
“Defence of the Good Friday agreement and preserving peace on the island of Ireland is one of those few.
“And it’s not just among elected officials. If you were to survey foreign policy and national security experts, whether they are in left-leaning or right-leaning thinktanks, you would find the same consensus.
“Frankly this is just not a divisive issue in the US. It’s a settled one.
“What the Boris Johnson government is doing in handling the Brexit negotiation is really isolating Britain from all of its traditional allies.”
Boris Johnson has been adamant that any renegotiation of the protocol will not endanger the Belfast agreement.
He said: “The most important agreement is the 25-year-old Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
“That is crucial for the stability of our country, of the UK, of Northern Ireland and that means things have got to command cross-community support.
“Plainly the Northern Ireland Protocol fails to do that and we need to sort it out.”
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