Congressman Eliot Engel with some young climate change activists in Washington, D.C. last week. Photo courtesy Congressman Engel’s office.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Boris Johnson is landing in New York this week with something more of a thud than British prime ministers generally do when the United Nations convenes for its annual General Assembly.
The thud is being caused by the Brexit shambles, an issue that has prompted a pre-arrival letter to the current incumbent of 10 Downing Street from Congressman Eliot Engel, current chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Engel, in his letter, has urged Johnson to protect the Good Friday Agreement as he considers Brexit plans.
In the letter, Engel pressed Johnson “to prioritize the continued stability and peace of Ireland and Northern Ireland” as he endeavors to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union.
“I appreciate the significant challenges that your country faces related to the decision to exit the European Union, but it is critical that the Brexit process not undermine peace in Northern Ireland,” Engel wrote.
The text of the letter states: “I write to you as someone with a deep appreciation for the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom who wishes to see that relationship continue to grow and prosper.
“However, I also write to express concern over the consequences of Brexit negotiations for the stability of Northern Ireland and for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
As the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, I consider the United Kingdom to be among the United States’ closest friends and strongest allies.
“The relationship between our two great democracies has served as a pillar of the stability in the West, and I am grateful for the solidarity with which our peoples and leaders have approached international challenges side-by-side.
“One of the most celebrated examples of our joint efforts is the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a remarkable achievement of international peacemaking that has withstood the test of time. Many Americans, including myself and many other members of Congress, feel personally invested in the agreement and in ensuring continued peace in Northern Ireland.
“To that end, I urge you to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process more broadly.
“An Ireland divided by a hard border risks reigniting old tensions and undoing the decades of progress that the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and United States have achieved together.
“I appreciate the significant challenges that your country faces related to the decision to exit the European Union, but it is critical that the Brexit process not undermine peace in Northern Ireland.”
In his letter, Engel reminds Johnson that a future trade deal between the UK and U.S. in contingent on the protection and preservation of the GFA.
“As Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has said, the United States Congress will not support any free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom if it fails to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement,” the Bronx Democrat wrote.
“I hope that your government will consult closely with Congress on this matter as you proceed, and I look forward to the continued close cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom.”