US battle lines drawn over Brexit with conflicting statements from Dems and Republicans over future trade deal
The leader of the Democrats in the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, warned on Wednesday that there would be “no chance” of a trade deal between London and Washington if Brexit threatened the “Good Friday Agreement” that put an end to thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland.
Pelosi reacted to statements by White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, who said during a visit to London on Monday that the United Kingdom would be “first in line” for a trade deal with the United States.
He explained that trade agreements could be made “sector by sector” and urged that a bilateral treaty could be carried out “very fast.”
“To be clear, in the Trump administration, the United Kingdom is constantly the first in line for a trade agreement. We want to move faster. I wish we could have made more progress with the previous government,” Bolton added.
Bolton’s comments were themselves a rejection of statements made during the Brexit campaign three years ago by then US President Barack Obama that a post-Brexit UK would find itself “at the back of the queue” when it comes to forging a trade deal with the US, which he said, would be more focused on negotiating with ‘big blocs’ like the EU.
Any trade agreement must be approved by the US Congress. Democrats control the House of Representatives while Republicans hold a majority in the Senate.”
If Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress.
“The peace of the Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be fiercely defended on a bicameral and bipartisan basis in the United States Congress,” she added.
Boris Johnson is demanding as a precondition to any discussion between the UK and the EU that the Europeans renounce the backstop clause, a measure aimed at preventing the re-establishment of the Irish border.
This backstop, approved in the withdrawal agreement concluded in November by the government of Theresa May, provides for the maintenance of the United Kingdom in the EU’s customs union until a long term solution is found to the question of the border.
US Vice President Mike Pence is due to visit the United Kingdom from September 4 to 5 and will travel to Ireland a day later to express the United States’ commitment to “defend the Good Friday Agreement, expand bilateral trade and investment and strengthen the economic relationship between our two countries,” the White House said in a statement.