PUBLISHED: 12:52, Tue, Sep 22, 2020 | UPDATED: 13:23, Tue, Sep 22, 2020
Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presidential candidate, warned Downing Street that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US “must be contingent upon respect” for the Good Friday Agreement. He also said there must not be a hard border on the island of Ireland, and claimed the peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic must not “become a casualty of Brexit”. His words following the Government’s confession that the Internal Market Bill — if passed — would break international law by overriding the withdrawal agreement.
The agreement was signed last year by the EU and the UK, and included the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol aimed to prevent a trade border on the island of Ireland arising after Brexit by making sure Northern Ireland still had to follow the EU’s single and custom market rules — while still officially leaving the bloc. The customs border would be down the Irish Sea instead.
Yet, Downing Street has insisted that it is “critical” for there to be “unfettered access” between the four countries of the UK, and implied that Mr Biden did not understand its Brexit proposals when he was criticising the proposed new bill.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said the Internal Market Bill was a rebuttal to the EU’s threat to banning the importation of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Democrat Joe Biden, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: Getty)
Joe Biden, former Vice-President, is running to be President in the November US election (Image: Getty)
Political commentator Cameron Hilditch has pulled apart Mr Biden’s claim, too, and said he was “wrong” to criticise the Internal Market Bill.
Mr Hilditch said: “If [Biden] would care to look more closely at the issues in question, he would learn that the European annexation of Northern Ireland was never necessary in order to preserve peace in Northern Ireland.
“In fact, it amounts to a far more egregious violation of the Good Friday Agreement than the Internal Market Bill.”
Mr Hilditch explained that the EU Parliament itself had published a 2017 study identifying the technology available for frictionless trade on the Irish border.
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Johnson celebrating with the EU after compromising on the withdrawal agreement (Image: Getty)