With the gathering drumbeat for a no-deal Brexit, the Irish American lobby faces its most important test since the IRA ceasefire in 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which it played such a huge role in securing. The Irish American lobby is needed again now
There is increasing momentum for a no-deal Brexit in Britain, especially with the rhetoric from new Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the appointment of a senior Tory figure, Michael Gove, as essentially the no-deal Brexit minister.
Tory thinking is clear. By playing Brexit hardball they win back the voters who flooded to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the recent European elections.
The polls also show that in a general election the Brexit Party, led by Farage, would split the Tory vote, likely handing the election to the Labour Party. The Tories going hardline eliminates that threat.
Thus, Johnson has picked a hardline on Brexit cabinet and can proceed to the general election likely in the fall, post-Brexit day of reckoning on October 31, with a strong and clear message of a tough stance.
The Labour Party, on the other hand, continues to try to be both pro and anti Brexit at the same time. The party is likely to suffer the consequences electorally of such confusion.
Johnson, like his mentor Donald Trump, has the benefit of a clear message now no matter what you think of it.
Johnson cares nothing about the consequences of no-deal Brexit in the North, a fact he has made abundantly clear since becoming prime minister.
Which is where Irish America comes in. Johnson’s scenario involves a major trade deal with America as part of his no-deal Brexit stance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at the urging of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal, has told the British she will block any trade deal if it damages the Belfast Agreement – which a no-deal Brexit certainly would.
Johnson needs the U.S. deal, and make no mistake, Trump will want to give it to him as they are birds of a feather.
The Irish American lobby ran rings around the British Embassy on issues such as a visa for Gerry Adams back in 1994. They have since worked closely with the Irish government to win over heavy hitters like Pelosi.
Irish America needs to push a similar and bipartisan message statement backing no change to the Irish border status from congressional figures on both sides.
It needs to be explained that a hardline Brexit damages the Belfast Agreement which has given Northern Ireland peace no matter how difficult things are still there.
The question must be asked of every member of the House and Senate if they stand with Irish America on blocking any trade bill that will help damage the Belfast Agreement.
The issue is non-partisan. Both Republicans and Democrats must send a clear and unequivocal message that protecting the Good Friday Agreement, worked on by Democratic and Republican presidents, must be safeguarded.
Ireland and Irish America are lucky to have such champions as Pelosi and Neal on this issue, but we need far more bipartisan support.
It is obvious now that Johnson is putting his political ambition first, and damn the consequences.
He must learn that when dealing with Brexit there is more opposition to his plan from America as well as from Europe.
He needs to hear the Irish American message loud and clear, that the Good Friday Agreement is sacrosanct.
America made a huge difference in securing that deal. Now we must be at the forefront of protecting it.