Sunday, 17 Jan 2021

Brexit backlash as Joe Biden ‘wants UK in EU’ amid Boris Johnson tensions

Joe Biden ‘less likely to invest in UK-US trade deal’ says expert

A deal remains a possibility as talks between the EU and the UK look set to continue into the weekend. Disagreements over fisheries, state aid and regulation stand in the way of an agreement as months of deadlock come to a pivotal moment. In an attempt to break the impasse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tried to modify the Northern Ireland protocol with a new piece of legislation – the Internal Market Bill.

Part of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and UK early this year, the Northern Ireland protocol was designed to ensure the border on the island of Ireland remains open to maintain peace – as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Biden warned Ireland must “not become a casualty” of Brexit, intervening to try and dissuade Mr Johnson from following through with the Internal Market Bill.

Mr Biden has also been a critic of Brexit since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.

And former Prime Minister Gordon Brown warns Mr Biden “wants the UK in the EU”.

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Mr Brown was in Number 10 while Mr Biden was Vice President under Barack Obama.

The former Labour leader said last month: “He would prefer us to be in the European Union, I know that.

“He also is worried about the Good Friday Agreement. He is not going to allow a trade deal with Britain to happen if we in some way breach the Good Friday Agreement.

“That is why I think he is already speeding up the [post-Brexit trade] talks on Europe [between the UK and the EU] and we may reach a conclusion so that the triggering of the Internal Market Bill won’t happen and relations with Ireland will not be affected. But he generally wants to cooperate.”

Mr Biden also appeared to pour cold water on hopes of a US-UK trade deal this week, claiming he wanted to prioritise investing in his own country.

He told the New York Times: “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education.

“I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first.”

Expert on US politics, Professor Stephen Burman tells that if Mr Johnson is deemed to have undermined the Good Friday Agreement and Mr Biden is President, Washington could try to “teach the UK a lesson”.

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Prof Burman said: “Joe Biden is Irish, so his commitment to a united Ireland would be absolute. If the Brits somehow contravened that and trouble arises on the border, Mr Biden would be furious.

“There are a lot of Irish sympathising politicians in the House of Representatives, and they would scupper a trade deal if Boris Johnson undermined the Good Friday Agreement.

“These things are absolute, the UK has no leverage on this.

“The UK would be finished in their eyes, and they would take retribution potentially across a whole range of policies.

“The British Government really are playing with fire here.

“The Americans will not hesitate to teach us a lesson if we don’t get the Irish border issue right.”

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