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Biden's Brexit line in the sand

Joe Biden: The Good Friday Agreement cannot be a casualty of Brexit


By Ray O'Hanlon

If British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was seeking some comfort and reassurance in Washington Wednesday he got some from the Trump administration, specifically from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

If Raab was considering the future possibility of a Biden administration in the specific context of Brexit and its possible negative effects on the Northern Ireland peace and political process, he would have been left Washington feeling a good deal less than comfortable.

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With Raab making the rounds in the nation's capital, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Tweeted: "We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

"Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period."

It was as clear and blunt a message as could be delivered from a man who tends to speak plainly.

And the plain simple message from Biden was don't mess with the Good Friday Agreement.

Biden was echoing not just fellow Democrats, but also the words of a bipartisan letter penned by four leading members of the House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, William Keating - all Democrats - and Republican Peter King.

Congressman King today tweeted: "Congress will bock trade deal with Britain if Good Friday Agreement is not honored in entirety. No hard border!"

CNN reported that Biden had provided UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the latest reminder that the world was watching how his government was handling Brexit.

The report pointed to the Johnson's government's proposed legislation that would override parts of the Brexit deal that the UK agreed with the European Union last autumn.

The report stated: "Specifically, it would override a part of the deal known as the Northern Ireland protocol. This exists for the primary purpose of there being no hard border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, which along with the rest of the UK has left the EU and is in a transition period out of the bloc that expires on December 31.

"Members of Johnson's government have previously admitted that the legislation, if passed, would 'break international law in a very specific and limited way.' This set off alarm bells among lawmakers in Johnson's own party, many of whom said publicly that they would rebel and vote for measures aimed at pulling teeth from the bill next Tuesday.

"Biden's comments will serve as an uncomfortable reminder for the UK that despite the British perception it has a special relationship with the US, the Irish lobby in DC is strong. The Democrats have a particular interest in this, as former President Bill Clinton took a leading role in the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement."