US trade deal ultimatum as leading Congressman fumes at Britain taking Ireland hostage

Liz Truss is grilled by Kay Burley on Northern Ireland Protocol

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Congressman Richard Neal sent a warning to the UK when he revealed US concerns over Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ threats to scrap parts of the hated Brexit deal in the name of protecting the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Neal said “this is an opportune time” to discuss the “challenges that Brexit created”.

He said: “It’s not going to be the words of the UK, it’s going to be their actions.

“I don’t think that Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement and the elections in the North of Ireland ought to be held hostage by a disagreement the UK has with the European Union.”

His comments come as senior figures in the US pile the pressure on the UK after House speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to block a trade deal with Britain in a strongly-worded intervention.

Ms Pelosi warned the US Congress would not support a free trade agreement with the UK if the Government persists with “deeply concerning” plans to “unilaterally discard” the Northern Ireland Protocol.

She urged the UK and the EU to continue negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol to uphold peace in the region.

Ms Pelosi said: “It is deeply concerning that the United Kingdom is now seeking to unilaterally discard the Northern Ireland Protocol. Negotiated agreements like the Protocol preserve the important progress and stability forged by the Good Friday Accords, which continue to enjoy strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the United States Congress.

“As I have stated in my conversations with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and Members of the House of Commons, if the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good Friday Accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

“Respectful of the will of the British people and of Brexit, I urge constructive, collaborative and good-faith negotiations to implement an agreement that upholds peace.

“The children of Northern Ireland, who have never known the bloody conflict and do not want to go back, deserve a future free of the violence where all may reach their fulfilment.”

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The comments are a reminder of the ongoing interest in Northern Ireland at the highest levels in Washington, amid political instability following the Assembly election.

US President Joe Biden previously weighed in on the row and advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson to show “leadership” by continuing negotiations and not ripping up the Protocol, which he suggested was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement by maintaining an open border on the Emerald Isle.

But Lord David Frost waded in, ordering President Biden to “butt out” of the ongoing row and to “stop lecturing” the UK.

On Tuesday, Ms Truss announced plans to legislate to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal treaty the UK struck with the EU.

Mr Johnson has insisted of his plans for the protocol, “we don’t want to nix it, we want to fix it”.

A White House spokesperson previously said: “The best path forward is a pragmatic one that requires courage, co-operation, and leadership.

“We urge the parties to continue engaging in a dialogue to resolve differences and bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

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