Biden rhetoric growing ridiculous, says DUP

Joe Biden and other senior Democrats’ rhetoric on Northern Ireland is growing increasingly ridiculous, a senior Democratic Unionist said.

The US presidential election frontrunner has warned that the 1998 Good Friday peace deal cannot become a “casualty” of Brexit.

The Democratic Party nominee for the White House said a future trade deal between the US and UK could only happen if the peace agreement was respected.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The rhetoric coming from Washington is growing increasingly ridiculous as people who took no part in the negotiations, who clearly haven’t read the Belfast Agreement properly, and yet now use that Agreement to attack the UK’s exit from the European Union.

“If a presidential candidate and senior figures on Capitol Hill are going to speak about the Belfast Agreement, they should at least accept that a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement.

“Does the close alliance of the UK and the USA in defeating international terrorism count for nothing?”

The Government has come under fire from the EU over the UK Internal Market Bill, which would allow ministers to override parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement regarding trade with Northern Ireland.

The Lagan Valley MP and his party’s leader at Westminster said not a single unionist party in Northern Ireland supported the Withdrawal Agreement.

He claimed Washington did not seem to care, despite consensus being at the heart of the Belfast Agreement.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

“Do unionist voices not matter in DC or is it just about the Irish-American vote rather than peace in Belfast?”

Downing Street has said the Government was working with US politicians to make sure people understood its position.

Mr Biden tweeted: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has warned Congress would never pass a free trade agreement with the UK if legislation to override the Brexit divorce settlement was to “imperil” the peace process.

“We continue to remain absolutely committed to no hard border and no border infrastructure between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,” a Number 10 spokesman said.

“And we will continue to engage with our US partners on a bipartisan basis to ensure that our positions are understood.”

The “politicisation” of Northern Ireland issues by Brussels in Brexit trade talks is threatening the Good Friday Agreement, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has told US congressional leaders.