US President Joe Biden has reaffirmed that peace in Northern Ireland cannot be compromised by the complications of Brexit.
We were speaking during a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the White House.
The President said he felt “very strongly” that he did not want an amendment to the “Irish agreements” resulting in “a closed border”.
Asked about a UK-US trade deal, the US president told reporters in the Oval Office: “To do with the UK, this continues to be discussed.
“But on the (Northern Ireland) protocols, I’m very attached to those. We put in a tremendous amount of time and effort, the United States, it was a major bipartisan effort done.
“And I wouldn’t at all like to see, and I might add that a lot of my fellow Republicans would like to see, a change in the Irish agreements, the end result having a closed border in Ireland.”
DUP Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots told the BBC that it is not for the United States to dictate how Brexit unfolds.
“Washington is not the decision-makers here, the UK government will ultimately be the decision-maker,” he said.
“They are in negotiations with the EU, if these negotiations do not bear fruit, it is up to the UK government to make the ultimate decision to step back from the protocol.”
Cabinet Minister George Eustice said the President was “wrong”.
The Environment Secretary suggested that the US president had not “fully appreciated” the details of the dispute.
Mr Eustice told Sky News: “He’s probably reading the headlines, reading what the EU is saying, reading what Ireland might say, which is that they would like the protocol to Northern Ireland operates in the way envisioned by the EU.
“We think he is wrong because the truth is that unless we have a lasting solution that allows trade to continue between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we will have problems, and this would in itself become a challenge for the Belfast agreement. “
He added, “We will of course explain to the United States that this is to say that potatoes grown in one part of the United States cannot be sold in another part of the United States.
“When you explain in detail some of these provisions, the US government understands that this clearly does not make sense and should therefore be reconsidered.”
Mr Eustice said it was “very complicated” and “I’m not sure he fully appreciates all of this”.
Protocol is the means by which a hard border is avoided on the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland continues to follow EU rules and thus creates a de facto maritime border with Britain, which has angered trade unionists and sparked protests.
DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has warned he will remove his ministers from the executive if the issues around the issue are not resolved. .
His ministers were involved in putting border controls in place at Northern Ireland’s ports and earlier this year sparked controversy when they halted work.
Construction in Scotland at border checkpoints has been reported to have come to a halt due to funding disputes.
Boris Johnson also sounded the alarm by warning that he would not hesitate to go beyond protocol.
Joe Biden has in the past warned that there would be no chance of a US-UK trade deal if the consequences of Brexit undermine peace at NI.
Meanwhile, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that “the Northern Ireland Protocol is the altar on which the Belfast Accord is being sacrificed”.
The DUP chief released the letter ahead of Boris Johnson’s talks with the president.
Last Friday Ms Pelosi again warned London that there could be no post-Brexit trade deal with the United States “if there is destruction of the Good Friday deals”.
Yesterday Sir Jeffrey said he sent Ms Pelosi a copy of the Belfast Agreement, writing that “the political, economic and constitutional difficulties created by the Protocol threaten prosperity in Northern Ireland and the quality of our status in the UK. United”.
“The Belfast Agreement was supposed to protect all communities in Northern Ireland. Not a single elected trade unionist in Northern Ireland supports the protocol, but your office still defends it. How can this be? One supports either the principles of the Belfast Accord or the NI Protocol, but it is not possible to support both, ”he said.
“The EU’s actions to date endanger the very Agreement that you and others claim to defend. It’s not good for the UK, EU or US, but more importantly, it is pushing back Northern Ireland. “
Mr Johnson yesterday refused to commit to a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States by the next election ahead of his White House talks.
The prime minister said he had “a lot of reason to be optimistic” about securing the free trade agreement (FTA) which was touted by Leave supporters as a major price for leaving. the European Union, but noted that the Americans “are negotiating very hard”.
His concession came after hinting that trade negotiations are not a priority for the US president, who, he admitted, has “a lot of fish to fry”.
The Prime Minister arrived at Union Station in Washington DC to greet the “very good news” that Mr Biden had pledged to double US funding to help vulnerable countries tackle the climate crisis, with Mr Johnson pushing for to increased spending.
But he earlier downplayed the prospects of securing a trade deal by the next election, citing the possibility that he could leave Downing Street without achieving a key ambition for the post-Brexit era.
When asked if he would get the deal by 2024, the prime minister told Sky News: “We will pursue free trade deals around the world, including the United States. I have many reasons to be optimistic about this. But the Americans are negotiating very hard.
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