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Joe Biden warned Boris Johnson not to allow a dispute over the post-Brexit settlement in Northern Ireland destabilize the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Speaking alongside the Prime Minister at the White House, the US president said he was “very strongly” that any change to the “Irish accords” would nullify peace efforts and could result in “a closed border”.
Johnson has sounded the alarm bells in Washington by warning in recent months that the UK will not hesitate to trigger Article 16 – the waiver mechanism that suspends parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, the section of the 2019 UK Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which covers trade with the region.
The protocol created a trade border in the Irish Sea to prevent the return of a north-south trade border to Ireland, but demanded high levels of costly and cumbersome controls on goods traveling from Britain to Northern Ireland to get there.
Biden has previously warned that there would be no chance of a UK-US trade deal if Brexit undermines the Northern Ireland peace process.
Speaking on Tuesday, Biden said, “On the protocols, I’m very attached to those. We spent an enormous amount of time and effort, the United States, it was a major bipartisan effort made.
“And I wouldn’t at all like to see, and I might add that a lot of my fellow Republicans would like to see, a change in the Irish agreements, the end result having a closed border in Ireland.”
Responding to Biden, Johnson said “that is absolutely true.” He added: “On this point Joe, we completely agree, no one wants to see anything that disrupts or unbalances the Belfast / Good Friday deal.”
The UK government is seeking to make fundamental changes to the protocol, which it spelled out in a so-called order document in July, including removing the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over trade in goods in Northern Ireland and an “honesty box” system for transporting goods. by the border of the Irish Sea.
Biden and a large Irish Diaspora in Congress have repeatedly called on the UK to honor the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended the region’s unrest that spanned three decades.