World news – President hopeful Joe Biden wades into Brexit row with trade deal warning to Boris Johnson


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The former vice-president and Democrat presidential nominee has told the Prime Minister any post-Brexit trade deal between the two nations is “contingent upon respect for the Agreement”. It comes after top US Democrats have piled pressure on Mr Johnson to scrap the proposed Internal Market Bill. Mr Biden’s comments also come ahead of the 2020 US election on November 3.

The Democrat hopeful took to social media to voice his concerns about the Good Friday Agreement being put in jeopardy by the controversial bill.

Mr Biden then threatened the UK Government by saying any trade deal with the US depends on “respect” for the 1988 legislation.

He wrote on Twitter: « 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. »

READ MORE: UK on brink of US trade deal as White House and Downing St ‘will on’ negotiators

The surprise intervention by Mr Biden will pile pressure on Mr Johnson following his decision to press ahead with the Internal Market Bill, which re-opens parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and threatens to break international law.

The Prime Minister insists the legislation acts as a « safety net » to the peace process and ensures Brussels could not impose tariffs on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in the event of no deal.

Prior to the comments by Mr Biden, four US congressmen, led by chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, wrote to the Prime Minister and said Washington will not support any free trade pact with the UK if Britain fails to uphold its commitments to Northern Ireland as part of Brexit.

In the letter also signed by Democrats Richard Neal and William Keating and Republican Peter King, they said: « Many in the US and in Congress consider the issues of the Good Friday Agreement and a potential US-UK Free Trade Agreement inextricably linked.”

The congressmen conceded they “appreciate the challenges” the UK faces in negotiating with the EU, but added: “An Ireland divided by a hard border risks inflaming old tensions that very much still fester today and undoing decades of work that the United States, Republic of Ireland, and United Kingdom achieved together.”

Mr Biden’s intervention and the congressmen’s letter followed Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives Speaker, who also attacked the Internal Market Bill for its potential risks to Northern Ireland.

She said again today after meeting with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab there was “no chance” of a trade deal between the US and UK if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined.

Ms Pelosi added in a statement: “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.

“The Good Friday Agreement is valued by the American people and will continue to be proudly defended in the United States Congress.”

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While US Democrats have voiced their displeasure about the Internal Market Bill, officials from President Donald Trump’s administration have put their trust behind Mr Johnson’s Government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a joint White House briefing with Mr Raab: “We trust the United Kingdom. I am confident they will get this right.

« We have made clear the importance of the Good Friday Agreement. We know the complexities of the situation.”

« We have done what we can to provide assistance where we can. In the end this will be a decision for the UK to make and I have great confidence that they will get this right.”

He said: « I think when they understand what we are trying to do they will share our ambition and concern which is to protect the peace process.”

Mr Raab also defended the bill when meeting with Mr Pomepo, and said « the threat to the Good Friday Agreement comes from the EU’s politicisation of the issue ».

He added the bill was « precautionary and proportionate » and said « what we can’t have is the EU seeking to erect a border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain ».

The bill passed through the House of Commons on Tuesday night with 340 MPs supporting the bill.

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