Joe Biden will warn Boris Johnson not to renege on Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements when they hold talks at the G7 this week.
The US president comes to Cornwall for his first foreign trip as the prime minister hosts the face-to-face meeting of world leaders.
But while he vows to confirm ‘the special relationship’ with the UK, Mr Biden is also expected to give a sign of the bickering with the EU over Northern Ireland.
The hard line comes as Brexit minister Lord Frost admitted the government had “underestimated” the impact of the protocol when it signed the deal.
The peer – meeting his EU counterpart this week for final talks on the situation – urged the bloc to give up “legal purism” and recognize that “time is running out” for a way through the to find a deadlock.
Joe Biden (pictured) plans to warn Boris Johnson not to renege on Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements when they hold talks at the G7 this week
US president comes to Cornwall for his first foreign trip as the prime minister (pictured this morning) hosts the face-to-face meeting of world leaders
Mr Johnson’s deal on Northern Ireland has fueled fears about rising sectarian tensions. Pictured, protests in Belfast in April
Mr Johnson’s deal on Northern Ireland has fueled fears about rising sectarian tensions.
A series of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne have infuriated unions over barriers to trade with the British mainland.
Writing in the Washington Post before his trip late this week, “In the United Kingdom, after meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reaffirm the special relationship between our nations, I will attend the G7 summit.
This group of leading democracies and economies have not met in person for two years because of the coronavirus.
“Ending this pandemic, improving health security for all countries and driving a robust, inclusive global economic recovery will be our top priorities.”
According to The Times, Mr Biden will also make it clear that he sees the protocol as a crucial part of maintaining peace in Northern Ireland – suggesting that a trade deal with the US would be jeopardized if not upheld.
However, he could also send the message to Brussels that they should be ‘more flexible’ and less ‘bureaucratic’.
Lord Frost said the British government had “underestimated” the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he helped negotiate as part of the original Brexit deal, on the region.
He has called on the European Union to renounce “legal purism” and instead embrace “pragmatic solutions” to solve the problems associated with the protocol.
The protocol has angered union members by effectively erecting a barrier between Britain and Northern Ireland by keeping the region bound by a set of EU customs and regulatory rules.
Talks between the EU and the UK government are continuing to resolve some of the issues, but many union members have called for it to be scrapped over fears of separating Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain.
In an article for the Financial Times ahead of his meeting this week with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in London, Lord Frost called for a change in the bloc’s stance.
Lord Frost, who was Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator during the divorce talks, said the UK had put in “enormous resources” to make the protocol work, but that working under EU legal terms meant “we have very limited discretion have to apply the rules in a certain way. which makes sense in Northern Ireland’.
He said the end result had been “political turbulence” and “real world impact on lives and livelihoods.”
“We have underestimated the effect of the protocol on freight traffic to Northern Ireland, with some suppliers in Britain simply not shipping their products due to the time-consuming paperwork,” the minister said.
‘We have seen drug manufacturers cut their supply.
‘And for the consumer there is less choice on the supermarket shelf.
“The NI Retail Consortium has warned that when the grace period ends in October, supermarkets will face ‘real, serious problems’.”
In an effort to move forward on a solution, the peer, who visited Northern Ireland last week, said there should be a “common sense and risk-based approach to the EU” along with the UK’s responsibility.
He said that despite putting together “a series of policy documents” outlining solutions, the UK had gotten “very little in return” from Brussels counterparts.
“The EU needs a new playbook for dealing with neighbours, one that involves pragmatic solutions between friends, not the imposition of rules from one party to another and legal purism,” he said.
“But time is running out. We need to see progress quickly. I hope we can do that this week.’
New DUP leader Edwin Poots said: ‘The Northern Ireland Protocol is bad for business in Northern Ireland and it is bad for all our citizens.
Lord Frost (right) has negotiated with Maros Sefcovic (left) to change Northern Ireland’s protocol rules
Those who claimed the Protocol was a ‘win-win’ are no more silent about it than they are about their demands for ‘rigorous implementation’.
All of us who want to make Northern Ireland work must speak with one voice against the absurd barriers to trade with our largest market…
‘Animals with full traceability pose no threat to the internal market, but centuries of trade is being strangled in its name.
It is equally absurd that it took my intervention to prevent pet and guide dog checks for diseases not found in the British Isles since 1922.
“The delivery of the Protocol as proposed when the grace periods end with 15,000 checks per week will be impossible.
“We don’t have the infrastructure or the staff to do it.”