After the US warned that a trade agreement with the UK was at risk, the international trade secretary said that the British government would first be focused on maintaining peace in Northern Ireland.
Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, stated that altering the protocol could cause damage to the Good Friday Agreement. This agreement aims at maintaining peace between Northern Ireland‘s communities.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan (UK’s international trade secretary), dismissed the warning and said that the relationship with the US was a PS200bn. This is a great trade relationship.
“But the British government will always be focused first and foremost on the sovereignty of the UK, and ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement works as it was intended, in order to ensure peace, prosperity, and security on the island.
She said that she was looking forward discussing the issue the Americans, who she acknowledged played a “very important role in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement”.
Ms Trevelyan stated that “if there are people that don’t get what we do, I want them to know that we are very happy.”
Conor Burns, the UK’s Northern Ireland Minister, stated earlier that there is no connection between the trade agreement and doing the right thing for Northern Ireland.
This week Liz Truss, British Foreign Secretary, stated that ministers will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to modify the protocol which governs Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade agreements.
She stated that she preferred negotiations with the EU but would implement any changes if they were not possible.
This protocol prevents the return of a hard frontier with the Republic of Ireland, but it has created a new border at the Irish Sea because some goods from the UK are subjected to customs inspections.
Due to the additional cost and paperwork, some companies have stopped sending goods to Northern Ireland. Ms Truss hopes to change this.
Ms. Pelosi stated in a statement that it was deeply troubling that the United Kingdom seeks to unilaterally abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Negotiated arrangements like the Protocol preserve the important progres and stability forged through the Good Friday Accords which continue to enjoy strong bipartisan support in the United States Congress.”
She stated that she had told Boris Johnson, Ms Truss, and other MPs before that “if Britain chooses to undermine Good Friday Accords”, the Congress can and will not support a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
She called for “constructive and collaborative negotiations” to achieve an agreement that maintains peace.
“No connection between trade agreement and protocol”
Conor Burns responded to her comments, saying that the government’s “absolute priority” was “protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (and the institutions that spring out of it”.
He tweeted, “As Nancy Pelosi know we seek an ambitious FTA (free trade agreement) with the USA.”
“But it cannot be connected between that and doing right for NI. None.”
There is currently not sitting Northern Ireland Assembly. This is because the DUP refuses to participate in mandatory power-sharing, unless the protocol has been altered or scrapped.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, said that Ms. Pelosi must “recognize that it is the protocol that is causing harm and undermining this agreement and that is why it is important that we deal with it.”
The EU stated that it would not adjust its mandate in order to modify the protocol.
Continue reading: What’s the government doing to address the protocol?
Will the UK be able to sign a trade agreement with the US?
It was more difficult than expected to reach a trade agreement with the USA, as Northern Ireland proved to be a problem.
Sky News’ Joe Biden, a proud Irish-American, stated that he doesn’t want to see the “Irish agreements” changed. The end result would be a “closed border” in Ireland.
Johnson said that he was optimistic about a trade agreement when he spoke out. The Americans negotiate very hard.”