Northern Ireland news

Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi committed to peace and stability in north

House of representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi
Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

US DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate Joe Biden is committed to preserving peace and stability in Northern Ireland while the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has bluntly told London there will be “absolutely no chance” of a US/UK trade deal if Boris Johnson overrides the Brexit deal with Brussels. 

In a tweet responding to the latest Brexit developments, Mr Biden's adviser Antony Blinken wrote: "As the UK and EU work out their relationship, any arrangements must protect the Good Friday Agreement and prevent the return of a hard border."

In a statement  last night Democrat Nancy Pelosi said that the American Congress would never pass an economic agreement that it felt could “imperil” the Northern Ireland peace accord.

“The Good Friday Agreement is the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland and an inspiration for the whole world.

“Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the stability brought by the invisible and frictionless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

“The UK must respect the Northern Ireland Protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border.

“If the UK violates that international treaty 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 treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress.”

The comments came amid growing concern over the British government's introduction of a new bill to override elements of the Withdrawal Agreement which was passed by Westminster in January.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis told MPs that the legislation ensuring Northern Ireland businesses could continue to enjoy unfettered access to markets in Britain would breach international law in a "very specific and limited way".

Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee that will oversee any future US-UK trade deal, has urged both sides in the Brexit negotiations to uphold the terms of their joint agreement, especially those elements dealing with Northern Ireland.

"The UK's departure from the EU at the end of this year and any US-UK trade agreement must preserve the Good Friday Agreement, which has maintained peace and prosperity for British and European peoples since 1998," Congressman Neal said.

"I sincerely hope the British government upholds the rule of law and delivers on the commitments it made during Brexit negotiations, particularly in regard to the Irish border protocols."

Congressman Richard Neal. Picture by Mal McCann

Last month, the Joe Biden campaign held a virtual rally for Irish-American voters where Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle said the Brexit process had put peace in Ireland at risk.

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard welcomed the Ways and Means Committee's support for the Good Friday Agreement.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already made it clear that Congress will not support any post-Brexit trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined," he said.

"This is an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans with the Congress earlier this year unanimously voting to protect the Good Friday Agreement and prevent the imposition of a hard border in Ireland."

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