Biden warns Boris on Northern Ireland peace deal

Former US vice president Joe Biden.
Former US vice president Joe Biden.
Image: Robyn Beck / AFP

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned the UK that it must honour the Northern Irish peace deal as it extracts itself from the EU or there would be no US trade deal.

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said in a tweet.

“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.”

Johnson unveiled legislation that would break parts of the Brexit divorce treaty relating to Northern Ireland, blaming the EU for putting a revolver on the table in trade talks and trying to divide up the UK.

He says the UK has to have the ability to break parts of the 2020 Brexit treaty he signed to uphold London’s commitments under the 1998 peace deal, which ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists.

The EU says any breach of the Brexit treaty could sink trade talks and thus complicate the border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

Asked about Biden’s criticism, British junior health minister Edward Argar said that he did not believe the Northern Irish peace deal was at risk.

Biden retweeted a letter from chair of the foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives,  Eliot Engel, to Johnson calling on the British leader to honour the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

Engel urged Johnson to “abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal agreement”.

Johnson is pushing ahead with his plan.

His government reached a deal on Wednesday to avert a rebellion in his own party, giving parliament a say over the use of post-Brexit powers within its proposed Internal Market Bill that breaks international law. — Reuters

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