A close aide of US President Joe Biden has said he will try to “convince” Boris Johnson’s government to scrap its plan to scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol during talks in London.
Attacker Richard Neill, who is leading a US delegation to Europe for several meetings, said on Saturday he would urge UK ministers against any unilateral “violation” of the Brexit treaty.
Mr. Neil will also visit Kerry later this week, where he will meet with Education Minister Norma Foley.
It follows warnings from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the US Congress would not agree to any trade deal if Britain went ahead with plans to “abandon” the protocol.
Ms Neil is set to repeat a message to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan during discussions in London.
“They haven’t breached it yet. They’re talking about dissolving it, so part of my job is to convince them not to dissolve it,” the top Democrat told The Guardian.
Mr Neill, who arrived in Brussels on Friday as part of a nine-member congressional delegation, also said Mr Johnson should retain all parts of the Brexit withdrawal deal he signed in 2010.
“The broader phenomenon here is that the protocol was duly negotiated by the British Prime Minister,” he told the Politico website. “This is an international agreement that must be followed.”
“It’s not going to be the UK’s words – it will be their action,” he said. “I don’t think Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement and the election in the North [of Ireland] Britain’s disagreement with the EU should be taken hostage.”
Mr Johnson and Ms Truss have insisted they do not plan to break the protocol outright, but aim to unilaterally “fix” it through new legislation to override parts of the agreement with Brussels keep.
The foreign secretary said earlier this week the law would create a “green channel” for goods traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Goods destined for the Republic of Ireland only will be subject to customs checks.
Ms Pelosi said on Thursday she had previously warned Mr Johnson and Truss that Congress “cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the UK” if they choose to “undermine” the Good Friday agreement. Will do it”.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said Ms Pelosi’s intervention on the protocol row was “unsuccessful” – but Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill “very welcome” the senior US figure’s remarks.
The two leaders met with Taoiseach Michael Martin for talks in Belfast on Friday, as the standoff over the power-sharing arrangement in Stormont escalated.
Mr Martin urged the DUP to help form a Northern Ireland executive as soon as possible, even if the federalist party wanted to engage in “parallel discussions” on the protocol.
The Irish Premier said it was “unheard of in a democratic world that Parliament would not convene after an election”, adding: “We cannot have a situation where one political party determines that other political parties cannot. Call to Parliament.”
Mr Martin also accused the UK government of going “unilaterally too far” on the protocol, amid warnings of a further trade war if the two sides cannot agree a deal.
He told the BBC: “I spoke to Boris Johnson and I have to take note of this, the idea that the EU is somehow being inflexible on this is not true – it doesn’t stack up.”
But Mr Donaldson said he had told the Taoiseach he was not interested in a “gluing plaster” approach to solving problems with border checks.
“This has to be a fundamental change that respects Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market, and nothing less will suffice,” the DUP boss said.