Presidential candidate Joe Biden and newly re-elected Congressman Richie Neal has warned the British government that trying to change the Irish protocol which ensured no hard border in Northern Ireland after Brexit would be a disastrous move.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to demand changes to the Brexit protocol already negotiated and part of international law. On Tuesday, Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, speaking in the House of Commons said that the proposed changes to Brexit protocol, with regards to the Irish border, would "break international law in a very specific and limited way.”
Rep. Richie Neal, as the Chairman of Ways and Means Committee, has a powerful say in treaties between the US and Britain and he could cause major problems for Johnson if the British renege. A Biden administration would also be sympathetic to the Irish position but President Donald Trump is a long time supporter of Brexit and Johnson.
A foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden, Antony Blinken, said that the Democratic presidential candidate is committed to preserving the hard-earned peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
He tweeted "As the UK and EU work out their relationship, any arrangements must protect the Good Friday Agreement and prevent the return of a hard border."
Neal was also quick to fire a warning shot. “Earlier this year, the European Union and the United Kingdom approved a Withdrawal Agreement that established the terms of the United Kingdom's orderly exit from the EU. I urge both sides to uphold the terms of this joint agreement, particularly with respect to the treatment of Northern Ireland, in accordance with international law. The UK’s departure from the EU at the end of this year and any U.S.-UK trade agreement must preserve the Good Friday Agreement, which has maintained peace and prosperity for British and European peoples since 1998.
"The United States is a guarantor of that historic peace accord, which was approved by the people of Ireland, north, and south, in an unprecedented referendum. Since the landmark peace deal was reached in 1998, the 310-mile border in Ireland has remained frictionless and invisible. Every political party on the island opposes a return of a hard border. I sincerely hope the British government upholds the rule of law and delivers on the commitments it made during Brexit negotiations, particularly in regard to the Irish border protocols."
The Democrats have long voiced their support for the Northern Ireland peace process. During Biden’s campaign for the Democratic nomination, he spoke about how much he cared about the Northern Ireland people process and said he would continue to put pressure on Britain to ensure there would be no return to a hard border.
Just last month at Biden’s virtual Irish American rally Congressman Brendan Boyle said of the border issue “We, fortunately, have many allies on Capitol Hill. One place that has not been an ally in the Oval Office.”
He continued "What a refreshing change it will be to have Joe Biden come this January. To have someone who supports the Good Friday Agreement and wants to protect it. Someone who is not mindlessly cheerleading for Brexit no matter the cost.”