Belfast Telegraph

No chance of US-UK trade deal if Brexit threatens Good Friday Agreement, warns Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi (J Scott Applewhite/AP)
Nancy Pelosi (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Nancy Pelosi has warned that there will be "no chance" of a US-UK trade deal passing through Congress if Brexit threatens the Good Friday Agreement.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives was speaking after National Security Advisor John Bolton said the UK was "first in line" for a trade deal.

“A prior American president said that if the United Kingdom left the European Union, it would go to the back of the queue on trade deals,” Mr Bolton said.

“To be clear, in the Trump administration, Britain’s constantly at the front of the trade queue, or line as we say.”

However, Ms Pelosi warned that Brexit "cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement".

“The Good Friday Agreement serves as the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland and as a beacon of hope for the entire world. After centuries of conflict and bloodshed, the world has witnessed a miracle of reconciliation and progress made possible because of this transformative accord," the veteran Democrat said.

“Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, especially now, as the first generation born into the hope of Good Friday 21 years ago comes into adulthood. We cannot go back.

“If Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress. The peace of the Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be fiercely defended on a bicameral and bipartisan basis in the United States Congress.”

As it stands the UK will be leaving the European Union on October 31 without a deal in place.

The EU has so far resisted calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to renegotiate his predecessor Theresa May's withdrawal agreement.

Mr Johnson has rejected suggestions that leaving with no-deal could lead to a hard border being imposed between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Senior police officers have suggested that any return to border infrastructure could embolden dissident republican elements in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Pelosi's comments were backed by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who called them a "welcome intervention" that "marks Boris Johnson's cards".

"The fantasy trade deal that Brexiteers like Johnson and Farage have been salivating over will not happen if they continue on their path to a hard Brexit and a hard border in Ireland," the Foyle MLA said.

“I welcome Nancy Pelosi’s strong and consistent commitment to the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. Her identification of a seamless border as a key test of Brexit is now a critical objective if the new British Prime Minister wants to land what he obviously sees as his big Brexit prize. 

“A seamless border and a no-deal Brexit are mutually exclusive objectives. Boris Johnson’s administration now has to recalculate its strategy and return to the cold reality that the backstop is the only show in town.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (Brian Lawless/PA)
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (Brian Lawless/PA)

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