US threatens to block trade deal with UK over Northern Ireland

Nancy Pelosi's comments a reminder of high-level Washington interest in the British territory

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. EPA
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The speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said the country would not enter a free-trade agreement with the UK if the government persisted with “deeply concerning” plans to discard the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ms Pelosi urged the UK and the EU to continue negotiations on the protocol to uphold peace in the region.

“The Good Friday Accords are the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland and a beacon of hope for the entire world,” Ms Pelosi said.

“Ensuring there remains no physical border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland is absolutely necessary for upholding this landmark agreement, which has transformed Northern Ireland.”

The comments are a reminder of the continuing interest in the British territory at the highest levels in Washington, amid political instability after its Assembly election.

The Democratic Unionist Party is blocking the re-establishment of Stormont’s power-sharing institutions in protest against the protocol, which has created economic barriers on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

This week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced plans for legislation to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal treaty that the UK struck with the EU.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Thursday. EPA

“It is deeply concerning that the United Kingdom is now seeking to unilaterally discard the Northern Ireland protocol," Ms Pelosi said,

"Negotiated agreements like the protocol preserve the important progress and stability forged by the Good Friday Accords, which continue to enjoy strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the United States Congress.

“As I have stated in my conversations with the prime minister, the foreign secretary and members of the House of Commons, if the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good Friday Accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free-trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

“Respectful of the will of the British people and of Brexit, I urge constructive, collaborative and good-faith negotiations to implement an agreement that upholds peace.

“The children of Northern Ireland, who have never known the bloody conflict and do not want to go back, deserve a future free of the violence where all may reach their fulfilment.”

Updated: May 20, 2022, 1:09 AM
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