Biden warns NI peace deal must not be ‘casualty’ of Brexit

The front runner in the US presidential election, Joe Biden, has insisted that the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland cannot become a “victim” of Brexit.

The intervention of the Democratic Party candidate for the White House came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced concerted opposition to government movements that would override the divorce deal with Brussels on trade with Northern Ireland.

When Secretary of State Dominic Raab visited Washington DC to discuss the matter, former Vice President Biden, who leads incumbent President Donald Trump in a series of nationwide polls ahead of the November election, insisted on a future US-UK trade deal just happen if the peace agreement has been respected.

Mr Biden tweeted: "We cannot allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to fall victim to Brexit.

“Any trade agreement between the US and the UK must be made conditional on compliance with the agreement and the prevention of the return of a hard border. Period."

His comments came after the Prime Minister saw the resignation of a senior judicial officer, Lord Keen, as he was forced to compromise over controversial plans to violate international law by overriding the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

The statements corresponded to those of the Democratic spokeswoman for the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

Before meeting Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Raab accused Brussels of “politicizing” Northern Ireland issues in the context of the Brexit trade talks.

He said the EU's stance threatened the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Raab said he made it clear that Britain has an "absolute" commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

"The British action here is defensive about what the EU is doing. It is precautionary, we have not done any of this and it is proportionate," he said.

"What we cannot have is the EU's drive to establish a regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the UK along the Irish Sea," added Raab.

Ms. Pelosi has warned that Congress would never conclude a free trade agreement with the UK if legislation repealing the Brexit divorce deal "jeopardized" the peace process.

The government is set to propose an amendment to the UK's Internal Market Act that will allow MPs to vote before using powers that would violate the deal brokered with Brussels last year.

Around 30 Tory rebels were believed to be preparing to vote on Tuesday for an amendment that would have required a Commons vote before the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act could take effect.

Downing Street relented and announced in a joint statement with Conservative MPs Sir Bob Neill and Damian Green that the law would be amended to require the Commons to vote before a minister could use the "regardless" powers it contains.

The statement said: “Following constructive discussions over the past few days, the government has agreed to table an amendment for the committee phase.

"Under this amendment, the House of Commons must vote in favor of a motion before a minister can use the powers contained in the UK Internal Market Act" regardless "."

Lord Keen
Lord Keen (Aaron Chown / PA)

However, Mr Johnson risked another conflict with the EU when he said Brussels was not acting in good faith.

He told the sun: “We assumed that our EU friends and partners would like to negotiate in good faith. "We have been paid members for 45 years."

The government's chief justice officer for Scotland resigned on Wednesday after reportedly unhappy with plans to repeal the withdrawal agreement.

Lord Keen of Elie QC, the Advocate General, said in his resignation letter: “Over the past week I have found it increasingly difficult to reconcile my legal obligations with your political intentions regarding UKIM law.

“I have tried to come up with a serious argument in favor of the provisions in sections 42 to 45 of the bill, but it is now clear that this is not your political intentions.

Labor shadow attorney Lord Falconer said: “This has been a week of chaos among the government's own judicial officers, whose legal advice has been denied by their own government, whose voice has been muted, and whose authority has been completely shot.

"This was a farce that shamed the entire government."

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