Biden warns PM Johnson of deep concerns over NI Protocol dispute at landmark G7 meeting

Thu 10 Jun 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

US president Joe Biden has expressed his deep concerns to prime minister Boris Johnson about the dispute between the UK and EU over the implementation of the NI Protocol.

The two met today (10 June) in Cornwall at the G7 summit – the President’s first overseas trip since his inauguration earlier this year.

Concerns

Biden has long argued that the Good Friday Agreement, which brokered peace on the island of Ireland, must not be undermined by post-Brexit trade disputes.

Jake Sullivan, a national security advisor to the president, is quoted in the FT as saying the president has “deep” concerns about the current row between London and Brussels.

‘Inflamed’

Their meeting follows a report in the Times that members of the Biden administration have accused the UK of “inflaming” tensions with the EU by opposing checks for goods in Northern Ireland.

A leaked memo showed that Yael Lempert, the US’ most senior diplomat in Britain, upbraided Lord Frost about the UK’s approach to the ongoing negotiations.

She said she had been told to issue London with a demarche – a formal diplomatic reprimand seldom exchanged between allies.

Negotiate

The memo, from a meeting on 3 June, said that the US “strongly urged” Britain to come to a “negotiated settlement”, even if that meant “unpopular compromises”.

Lempert said that if Britain agreed to follow EU rules on agricultural standards, Biden would ensure that the matter “wouldn’t negatively affect the chances of reaching a US-UK free trade deal”.

Pressure on PM

According to the FT, Johnson will face pressure from both the US and European leaders at the summit.

The summit comes amid EU threats of trade retaliation should the UK decide to unilaterally suspend elements of the Protocol.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said the behaviour of the prime minister was of increasing concern to EU member states and called on the UK to respect the rule of law and implement the Brexit deal, reports the Guardian.

“It’s paramount to implement what we have decided – this is a question of rule of law,” said Michel, who will have a trilateral with Johnson and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, at the G7.

Doable

Despite the threat of EU sanctions hanging over the UK, Johnson arrived at the G7 full of confidence, saying that a solution to the Protocol was “doable”, according to Reuters..

Asked if the G7 summit would be overshadowed by a trade war with the EU, Johnson said: "I'm not worried about that."