Joe Biden ally aims to ‘convince’ UK government not to violate Northern Ireland protocol during talks

US President Joe Biden’s close ally has said he will try to “convince” Boris Johnson’s government to drop its plan to overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol during talks in London.

Congressman Richard Neal, who is leading a US delegation to Europe for a series of meetings, said he would urge UK ministers on Saturday against any unilateral “breach” of the Brexit treaty.

Neal will also visit Kerry this weekend, where he will meet with Education Secretary Norma Foley.

It follows a warning from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the US Congress would not agree to any trade deal if Britain goes ahead with a plan to “scrap” the protocol. .

Ms. Neal will repeat the message to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan in talks in London.

“He hasn’t been raped yet. They’re talking about breaking it, so part of my job is to convince them not to break it,” the top Democrat told The Guardian.

Neal, who arrived in Brussels on Friday as part of a nine-member congressional delegation, also said Johnson should defend all parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement he signed in 2010.

“The broader occurrence here is that the protocol was duly negotiated by the British prime minister,” he told the Politico website. “It is an international agreement that must be adhered to.”

“It will not be the UK’s words, it will be its actions,” he added. “I don’t think Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement and the elections in the north [of Ireland] should be held hostage to a disagreement the UK has with the European Union.”

Johnson and Truss have insisted that they do not plan to rip up the protocol entirely, but instead intend to unilaterally “fix” it through new legislation to nullify parts of the agreement with Brussels.

The foreign secretary said earlier this week that the legislation would create a “green channel” for goods traveling from Britain to Northern Ireland. Only goods destined for the Republic of Ireland would be subject to customs controls.

Pelosi said Thursday that she had previously warned Johnson and Truss that if they choose to “undermine” the Good Friday Agreement, then Congress “cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the UK.”

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said Ms Pelosi’s intervention on the protocol dispute was “pointless” but Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill “welcomed” the figure’s comments. high-ranking American

The two leaders met Taoiseach Micheal Martin for talks in Belfast on Friday, as the impasse over power-sharing deals in Stormont continued.

Martin urged the DUP to help form the Northern Ireland Executive as soon as possible, even if the unionist party wanted to engage in “side discussions” over the protocol.

The Irish prime minister said it was “unheard of in a democratic world for that parliament not to meet after an election”, adding: “We cannot have a situation where one political party determines that the other political parties cannot meet in a parliament”.

Martin also accused the UK government of going “too far unilaterally” on the protocol, amid warnings of a trade war ahead if the two sides cannot reach a compromise.

He told the BBC: “I spoke to Boris Johnson and I have to figure this out, this idea that somehow the European Union is being adamant on this is not the truth, it doesn’t add up.”

But Donaldson said he had told the Taoiseach that he is not interested in a “sticky plaster” approach to solving problems with border controls.

“It has to be a fundamental change that respects Northern Ireland’s place within the UK’s internal market, and nothing less than that will suffice,” the DUP chief said.

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