Joe Biden’s national security adviser warns Boris Johnson that scrapping Northern Ireland protocol would be a ‘serious risk to stability’ in Ulster and ‘of significant concern to the US’
- Jake Sullivan said the White House has significant concern’ about UK plans
- The Government has repeatedly threatened to trigger Article 16 of the protocol
- It would allow Britain to unilaterally walk away from some of the rules
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said the White House has significant concern’ about UK threats to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol before Christmas.
His comments came after Brexit Minister Lord Frost set a November deadline for a solution to the protocol deadlock, warning the EU the UK ‘cannot wait forever’ for border checks to be improved.
He said there will be a ‘decision point’ early next month when it will become apparent if it is possible for the two sides to agree a solution to resolve ongoing disruption to intra-UK trade.
London has threatened to unilaterally suspend the agreement if Brussels does not agree to scrap the protocol and replace it – something the EU is refusing to contemplate.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Sullivan said: ‘The United States government, as President Biden said in the Oval Office with Prime Minister Johnson, strongly supports the Good Friday agreement, believes it must be protected, believes that peace and stability in Northern Ireland must be protected.’
Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said the White House has significant concern’ about UK plans to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol before Christmas.
London has threatened to unilaterally suspend the agreement if Brussels does not agree to scrap the protocol and replace it, after it caused problems and social unrest in Northern Ireland
‘The Northern Ireland protocol was agreed between the EU and the UK and our view is that the two sides should work together in a constructive way to find a deal and a way forward.
‘Without something like the Northern Ireland protocol and with the possibility of the return of a hard border between NI and the Republic of Ireland, we will have a serious risk to stability and to the sanctity of the Good Friday agreement, and that is of significant concern to the US.’
However, the Government is likely to pick up on his talk of ‘something like’ the protocol as a tacit suggestion that a suitable alternative might be acceptable to the Biden administration.
The Government has repeatedly threatened to trigger Article 16 of the protocol which would allow Britain to unilaterally walk away from some of the rules.
However, such a move would spark a furious response in Brussels and would likely lead to a legal challenge.
The protocol, agreed as part of the Brexit deal, requires checks on goods travelling from GB to Northern Ireland to be carried out at ports in order to avoid the return of a land border with the Republic.
But it has caused disruption to trade and angered unionists who have demanded the rules be scrapped, arguing they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The UK wants to renegotiate the terms of the protocol but the EU is only willing to make tweaks.
Lord Frost has now drawn up plans to permanently replace the protocol, telling Tory activists he will ‘soon be sending a new set of legal texts to the EU’.
He said he believes the protocol now risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement and the threshold for triggering Article 16 has been met.
He warned ‘tinkering around the edges’ will not fix the fundamental problems with the protocol and urged the EU to be more ‘ambitious’ in its approach so that an agreed solution to the ongoing issues can be found.
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh said: ‘Boris Johnson’s approach is doing real damage – it is inflaming tension, while solving nothing and damaging our standing with our closest partners.
‘Boris Johnson personally negotiated every dot and comma of the protocol. He should show some responsibility, drop the endless threats and reach the agreement businesses and communities need.’