UK told 'no chance' of trade deal with US if Northern Ireland peace process 'imperilled'

10 September 2020, 13:45

Nancy Pelosi insisted Brexit should not be allowed to "imperil" the Northern Ireland peace process
Nancy Pelosi insisted Brexit should not be allowed to "imperil" the Northern Ireland peace process. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Boris Johnson has been warned there will be "absolutely no chance" of a trade deal with the US if he goes ahead with overriding key parts of the Brexit agreement with Brussels.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said the Withdrawal Agreement could not be allowed to "imperil" the Northern Ireland peace process as she issued her warning on Wednesday.

She added in her statement: "The UK must respect the Northern Ireland Protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border.

READ MORE: Senior EU official to meet Michael Gove for emergency Brexit talks

"If the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress.

"The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress."

Ms Pelosi's comments came as hastily-arranged Brexit talks were due to take place on Thursday after the EU's strong reaction to Mr Johnson's move to alter key elements of the deal relating to Northern Ireland.

Held in London, the "extraordinary meeting" will see Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove talk with senior EU official Maros Sefcovic as further discussions between the UK's chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost and his Brussels counterpart Michel Barnier continue.

READ MORE: 'Read stuff before you sign it, especially if you negotiated it yourself' - Hilary Benn

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also responded to the move, saying she was "very concerned" after the UK Internal Market Bill was tabled in Parliament - despite ministers admitting it would breach international law.

She stressed it would "undermine trust" in the relationship as she called on Mr Johnson to backtrack on the action.

Boris Johnson has been warned he would 'undermine trust' if he were to continue with the move
Boris Johnson has been warned he would 'undermine trust' if he were to continue with the move. Picture: PA

Conservative former prime minister Sir John Major said the UK could stand to lose its reputation "for honouring the promises we make" as he reacted angrily to the tabling of the Bill.

He said: "For generations, Britain's word - solemnly given - has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct.

"Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained."

READ MORE: Darroch brands breaking international law over Brexit divorce deal 'extraordinary'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, said Mr Johnson needed to make sure he could secure a deal with Brussels.

"If you fail to get a deal, prime minister, you own that failure," he said.