US presidential hopeful Joe Biden has waded in on behalf of his ancestral homeland, Ireland. Brussels is unimpressed by Boris Johnson’s pledge to use his new Brexit gambit only if needed. Next month’s Irish Budget is all about Covid 19 and the ‘B-word’
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab personally collected the warning he expected at a meeting with US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and powerful committee chair Congressman Richie Neale.
The US leaders both told the visiting UK minister that London’s plans to unilaterally change the North’s special trade status threaten the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and that means there is no hope of a UK-US free-trade deal.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden followed up with a blunt warning along the same lines. In the US, the president has no direct power over trade deals – they are a matter for Congress. But the proud Irish-American’s warning signals other complications for the UK in a post-Brexit world if he wins the November election.
Boris Johnson has brokered a compromise with some Tory rebels in something of a climbdown. The British prime minister has agreed to put the changes to the North’s Brexit status on the backburner –for use only in extremis and with special parliamentary approval.
But his internal woes continue with the reluctant resignation of another senior government law officer, as Richard Keen, the advocate for Scotland, said he could not reconcile the planned legislation with his legal duties. Increasingly, attention will focus on the House of Lords, whose members are extremely annoyed by the draft law which breaks an international treaty already agreed with the EU.
Boris Johnson’s compromise with Conservative rebels, putting his change of the North’s status on the shelf for use only in extremis, left EU officials unimpressed. They want the plan withdrawn forthwith – not put in an ‘emergency-use-only box’.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told the 27 member-state ambassadors that the threat of legal action on the issue still stands. He also brushed aside Mr Johnson’s claims that the EU was trying to block food exports to the North from Britain.
Mr Barnier insisted the struggling EU-UK trade talks will continue and Brussels refuses to be accused of collapsing negotiations.
The important bits of next month’s Budget plan for 2021 which are not about Covid-19 will be all about Brexit. Both Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Spending Minister Michael McGrath said ongoing preparations for Budget 2021 will be based on cushioning fallout from a no-deal UK crash-out from the EU on December 31.
THE prospect of a Brexit free trade deal with Britain is fading fast, the President of the European Commission has declared – while strongly backing Ireland over the latest gambit by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.