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US president Biden to warn Prime Minister Johnson not to renege on NI Protocol deal at G7 summit

Development comes as pressure grows on Boris Johnson to address ‘havoc’ caused by protocol

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Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the United States sees the deal, agreed by the Conservative leader in 2019, as an integral part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland, The Times has reported. Ken Cedeno/Reuters

Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the United States sees the deal, agreed by the Conservative leader in 2019, as an integral part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland, The Times has reported. Ken Cedeno/Reuters

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Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the United States sees the deal, agreed by the Conservative leader in 2019, as an integral part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland, The Times has reported. Ken Cedeno/Reuters

President Biden is expected to urge the Prime Minister not to renege on the Northern Ireland Protocol deal when they meet for the first time at the G7 summit this week.

The United States commander-in-chief will use a bilateral meeting with Boris Johnson before the gathering of world leaders in Cornwall to explicitly express America’s support for the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the United States sees the deal, agreed by the Conservative leader in 2019, as an integral part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland, The Times has reported.

He will also warn that the prospects of the US trade deal with the UK will be damaged if the situation remains unresolved.

However, the US president is expected to make it clear to Brussels that he expects the EU to stop being “bureaucratic” and adopt a more flexible approach to the implementation of the agreement.

His comments come as Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said on Monday the Government was "missing in action" on the issue of border controls in Northern Ireland.

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Lord Frost. Credit: Aaron Chown

Lord Frost. Credit: Aaron Chown

Lord Frost. Credit: Aaron Chown


"We've got to sort out the border in the Irish sea, not because Joe Biden has told us to but because it's causing absolute havoc in Northern Ireland and we've got a responsibility to get this right," she told Sky News.

"The Prime Minister made promises to the people of Northern Ireland that haven't been kept.

"I think the best way to resolve this is through decent relationships, investing in those relationships and through pragmatism.

"We need to make sure we minimise any kind of border checks or disruption, and we can do that with good will on both sides.

"But there's a feeling at the moment that the Government is missing in action on this, particularly the Prime Minister.

"Boris Johnson has created this problem and yet he's nowhere to be seen, I think there's a real feeling of dismay about that, but he could turn that around."

The Protocol was designed to prevent a hard land border on the island of Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market and customs union. This has resulted in the creation of a border down the Irish Sea, and angered unionists who believe it undermines the integrity of the union, as well as loyalists protests here.

Sources in London and Washington told The Times that the administration was increasingly nervous about the impasse.

Last week the EU accused Johnson of “taking them for fools” and warned that Brussels was drawing up plans to impose trade sanctions on the UK if progress was not rapidly made on implementing the agreement.

Privately, Brussels diplomats think Johnson may want to “deliberately collapse the protocol” under the pretext of unionist opposition and the threat to the Good Friday agreement.

Senior government sources reject this. Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, yesterday accused the EU of being insensitive to the protocol’s “real-world impacts on lives and livelihoods”.

“Because we are operating under the EU’s legal framework we have very limited discretion to operate the rules in a way which makes sense on the ground in Northern Ireland,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

Solicitor General Lucy Frazer has backed Lord Frost, but acknowledged the trade complexities surrounding Brexit and Northern Ireland are "more difficult than we anticipated".

"It is very difficult on the ground in terms of trade,” she told Sky News.

"It is really important that we sort it and Lord Frost is doing just that.

"As it has panned out, on the ground it is more difficult than we anticipated and we do need to sort out that trade arrangement."

Biden is understood to have been lobbied by the Irish government to intervene. “The administration is now convinced that the protocol has to be made to work and is integral to the peace process,” a senior diplomatic source said.

The UK and EU sides are to talk on Wednesday but expectations are low after João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the UK, told Times Radio: “What our British friends asked from us was pragmatism.

"And we have proven that we want to be pragmatic, but pragmatism requires trust. If you don’t have trust and if you create frustration then these are not the best conditions to find consensual solutions.”


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