Northern Ireland news

Influential US committee says no deal will jeopardise UK-US trade deal

Former congressman Bruce Morrison co-signed a letter warning how a no deal Brexit would jeopardise a UK-US trade agreement

AN influential Irish-American group has reiterated its warning over how a no deal Brexit would jeopardise a UK-US trade agreement.

In a letter to newly-appointed Secretary of State Julian Smith, the Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement said that if the 1998 accord is not fully protected it would be "all but impossible" to strike a trans-Atlantic trade deal.

The committee wrote to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May in February outlining their concern about the "ability of the UK government to uphold the Good Friday Agreement".

Describing themselves as a "group of Americans with a long history of involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process", they say they "remain deeply concerned" given last week's remarks by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which he indicated that there can be no Irish backstop in the withdrawal agreement – even one with a time limit.

"We view the belief that alternative arrangements can easily solve the problem of the Irish border with a healthy scepticism as do many experts," the committee said.

They cite recent remarks by speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi where she stressed her determination to protect the Good Friday Agreement and, if necessary, resolutely oppose any UK/US trade deal.

"We agree with her position – as former members of Congress we can assure you that getting any trade deal through the Congress is challenging at any time," said joint signatories James T Walsh and Bruce Morrison, both former congressmen.

"The firm opposition of the speaker and our former colleague the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Congressman Richie Neal will make the task all but impossible – we also believe that this challenge should not be misunderstood by those pursuing Brexit negotiations for your government."

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