Boris Johnson’s Brexit maneuver risks blowback from Biden, Democrats
September 10, 2020 @ 12:11 +03:00
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to shake up the trade talks that are a part of his country’s Brexit negotiations. But the latest move by the Conservative government could have the side effect of damaging relations with a new U.S. president before he’s even in the White House — and scupper the chances of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal that Britain hopes to ink once it formally leaves the European Union.
Johnson’s government is attempting to gain the upper hand amid a stalemate in negotiations over the future trade relationship between an independent U.K. and the European Union, releasing a controversial Internal Market Bill Wednesday that proposes transferring regulatory powers over some sectors from the EU back to various levels of U.K. government. The proposal would go back on a prior agreement reached with the E.U. on Brexit. Not only that, by changing how border checks are conducted, the measure would break a protocol protecting the Good Friday peace agreement of 1998 between Northern Ireland, which remains a part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted Sunday that the planned law would represent “a treacherous betrayal” inflicting “irreversible harm.”
Then-President Bill Clinton helped broker the Good Friday Agreement, one of his signature foreign policy accomplishments, which ended a decades-long civil war between those in Northern Ireland who remained loyal to Britain and those who wanted to be part of the independent Ireland. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and other party leaders in the U.S. have already signaled any move to upend the Northern Ireland peace deal would seriously damage the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K.
Biden, himself, has spoken often of his Irish roots and affinity for Ireland, describing a 2016 visit to Ireland as a “homecoming” and telling a Washington audience that year that, “being Irish, without fear of contradiction, has shaped my entire life.”
Critics both within the U.K. and outside it warn that Johnson’s move could also blunt efforts by Britain and other democratic governments to pressure China to protect democracy in Hong Kong, and increase pressure for another referendum on Scottish independence from Britain.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit maneuver risks blowback from Biden, Democrats, Politico, Sep 10