President Joe Biden will have a lot on his mind when meeting G7 leaders in Cornwall, England, later this week.
We know one of the topics on Biden’s mind will be Ireland.
The U.K. Times reported Monday that, “President Biden will warn Boris Johnson not to renege on the Northern Ireland Brexit deal when they meet for the first time at the G7 summit this week.
“He will use a bilateral meeting with the prime minister before the gathering of world leaders in Cornwall to explicitly express America’s support for the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
The fact that Biden is making crystal clear where he stands should be enough to prevent any drastic moves by a British government that has been erratic on the issue of the protocol to say the least.
Biden will meet Johnson separately before the summit takes place, and will no doubt impress on him the need for decisive action to get the peace process back on track.
This is important stuff. The ability of an American president to move the dial on Irish issues is well documented.
Once Bill Clinton took an interest in Ireland in 1992 after his election, the standstill negotiations suddenly began to move again. What resulted was an IRA ceasefire and Senator George Mitchell chairing the talks that led to the Belfast Agreement.
This time around, Irish Americans will be looking to Biden to deliver a succinct message to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the Brexit madness must be disentangled from the peace processes in Northern Ireland.
An issue for Ireland is the retention of the Irish Sea border as an absolute necessity despite unionist and secret British efforts to enforce a land border deal.
A land border between Ireland north and south would be in direct contravention of the Belfast Agreement and cause uproar that could very well include a resumption of violence.
On the other side, loyalism is in open revolt and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is threatening to stop all cooperation with the Irish government if the issue of the Irish Sea border is not resolved.
There is no certainty Biden will succeed. Like with Brexit itself, the British make up their own rules as they go along and no one dares to contradict them.
But Joe Biden can.
Biden knows Johnson is desperate for a trade deal with the U.S. to launch Brexit. It is precisely the kind of deal that Johnson could point to as a huge first dividend from the Brexit vote removing Britain from the European Union.
Johnson has bullied and cajoled and misled everybody involved in the peace process, including the Irish government, unionists and nationalist parties. His strategy has been to kick the can down the street and hope it all will be fine on the night.
The Irish government in recent days has put forward an interesting new proposal which could relieve tensions greatly.
It involves a system whereby meat and food products would not be scrutinized at the sea border but in their places of origin.
The upside is that 80 percent of the traffic into and out of Northern Ireland would disappear and greatly minimize the delays that are causing much of the frustration.
It might take a Joe Biden to make such a deal stick, but Johnson seems as confused as anyone on what to do next.
We suggest he listen to President Biden.
*This editorial first appeared in the June 9 edition of the Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.