US President Joe Biden enters fray in battle over protocol

US President Joe Biden today enters the fray in the dispute over the NI Protocol.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 7:40 am
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 7:44 am
Brexit minister Lord Frost, flanked by Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt, sitting opposite European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, who is flanked by Principal Adviser, Service for the EU-UK Agreements (UKS) Richard Szostak, as he chairs the first EU-UK partnership council at Admiralty House in London. Picture date: Wednesday June 9, 2021.

In his first foreign trip since becoming president, Mr Biden will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall on the eve of the G7 summit.

On the agenda will be discussions about the protocol and American concerns about its impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

Last night Mr Johnson said a deal with the EU to sort out protocol difficulties was “easily doable”.

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But his upbeat assessment came just hours after a three-and-a-half hour meeting in London between the two sides broke up without any progress.

Afterwards European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said EU patience was wearing “very, very thin”, and threatened a trade war.

Brexit minister Lord Frost accused the EU of an “extremely purist approach” over its attitude towards the implementation of the protocol which damages trade between GB and NI and has angered unionists and loyalists.

Mr Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday: “President Biden believes and has said that the Northern Ireland Protocol ... is critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected.”

Mr Johnson said that the north-south trade dimension between NI and the Republic of Ireland is part of the agreement, but added: “There’s also an east-west dimension, that’s very, very clearly at the heart of what the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is trying to do. So, what we want to do is make sure that we can have a solution that guarantees the peace process, protects the peace process, but also guarantees the economic and territorial integrity of the whole United Kingdom.”