President Joe Biden has threatened to cancel an upcoming planned visit to the United Kingdom if the U.K. and European Union are unable to negotiate a deal to his liking with regard to Brexit-related trade barriers imposed on the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.
Now a number of U.K. conservatives are urging Biden to make good on that threat and “stay at home” instead of interfering in the U.K.’s business, the American Wire reported.
Biden was further urged to “focus” on the many problems his own nation is dealing with before trying to get involved in disputes between other countries.
Biden threatens to cancel U.K. visit
The U.K. Telegraph reported in December that President Biden was set to visit the U.K.’s North Ireland and the independent Republic of Ireland in April to mark the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of fighting and established a devolved regional government for Northern Ireland known colloquially as Stormont.
Biden has threatened to cancel that visit, however, over his concerns about ongoing negotiations between the U.K. and EU about the Northern Ireland Protocols, a trade agreement that allows Northern Ireland to trade freely with the EU but imposes strict customs checks on the rest of the U.K. and, in effect, places Northern Ireland under EU control despite being part of the post-Brexit U.K.
The U.S. president has long been a critic of Brexit and has sided with the EU in the trade dispute and warned that any major changes to the protocols — particularly those favorable to the U.K. — could undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
“Stay at home and focus on your own country”
Breitbart reported that Ben Harris-Quinney, chair of the British conservative think tank Bow Group, said, “Like Obama and Pelosi before him, Biden and U.S. Democrats have sought to interfere outrageously in the Brexit process and in our domestic governance.”
“Britain has never had a greater ally in the support of Brexit than Trump, or a greater foe in scuppering it than Biden,” he continued. “When Biden threatens to cancel his state visit to the UK unless we keep the NI Protocol, it sounds like the first trade deal he’s proposed we can get behind.”
“We accept your terms, Joe,” Harris-Quinney added. “Stay at home and focus on your own country, your interference is unwelcome here.”
The current Protocols are the problem
The outlet noted that a similar message came from another top member of the Bow Group, former Secretary of State for Wales Sir John Redwood MP, who asserted that President Biden has things backward and it is the EU-favorable Northern Ireland Protocols that threaten to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
“President Biden wants to come over on the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and celebrate it but there will be nothing to celebrate unless Stormont is meeting again and functioning,” Redwood said in a recent address. “It cannot do so long as the EU is carrying on with the heavy-handed misinterpretation of the Protocol.”
“They must come to understand on the American side of the Atlantic, as we do, that it is the Protocol that is damaging the Good Friday Agreement,” he said, and added that if Biden and his fellow Democrats “truly want to help they must understand the great damage that has been done to the Good Friday Agreement by the EU misinterpretation and mishandling of the Protocol.”
Biden to send Blinken instead, if necessary
The Telegraph noted in its December article that preliminary talks had already begun between top leaders of the U.K. and EU over the Northern Ireland Protocols but that negotiations would intensify in January, and though neither side wants to impose a hard deadline on a renegotiated trade deal it is nonetheless hoped that a new agreement can be reached ahead of the Good Friday anniversary in April.
If a deal to his liking isn’t reached by then, however, the outlet reported that contingency plans are said to be in place for President Biden to skip the celebrations and instead send Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his place, which would be seen as a significant snub against the U.K. government.