Johnson claims there is ‘complete harmony’ between UK and US over protocol

Leaders say they are ‘fully committed’ to the Good Friday Agreement

 

Britain, the United States and the European Union are in “complete harmony” on finding solutions to the impasse over Brexit that will uphold the Belfast Agreement, Boris Johnson has said after a meeting with Joe Biden.

But Downing Street did not deny a report that the US issued a démarche – or diplomatic rebuke – to Britain earlier this month, accusing Mr Johnson’s government of inflaming tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Mr Johnson said the US president did not express alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland as the standoff between Britain and the EU over the protocol continues.

“There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. And I think what’s interesting is Northern Ireland is a fantastic place and it’s got amazing potential. It is a great, great part of the UK,” he said.

“America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do and that is to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”

Committment

Mr Johnson was speaking in Cornwall after meeting Mr Biden in advance of a G7 summit which begins on Friday.

In a joint statement, the two leaders affirmed their commitment to the Belfast Agreement, noting its three-strand structure.

“Northern Ireland has taken huge strides forward since its courageous leaders put reconciliation and progress before violence and division 23 years ago.

“We are proud of the achievements of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and we remain fully committed to its three-strand approach, that: established the democratic institutions in Northern Ireland; provided for consultation, co-operation and action across the island of Ireland; and created structures for British-Irish engagement.

“It took a deep partnership between the UK, Ireland, and the US to support the people of Northern Ireland in bringing the Troubles to an end, and it will take a continued and ongoing partnership to advance and safeguard Northern Ireland’s stability and prosperity into the future,” they said.

“Today, the UK and US reaffirm their commitment to working closely with all parties to the Agreement to protect its delicate balance and realise its vision for reconciliation, consent, equality, respect for rights, and parity of esteem.

“Unlocking Northern Ireland’s tremendous potential is a vital part of safeguarding the stability created by the Agreement, and the UK and the US will continue working together towards that shared goal.”

‘Bent over backwards’

Earlier, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she and European Council president Charles Michel would discuss the protocol with Mr Johnson when they meet in Cornwall on Saturday.

She said the EU had “bent over backwards for years” to find a solution that works for everyone in Northern Ireland but complained that gaps remained in Britain’s implementation of the agreement.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who will also take part in the G7 summit, dismissed British demands that the protocol should be adapted to ease its impact on people and businesses in the North.

“I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December,” he said.

“We have a protocol under which there is this Northern Ireland protocol and we have a trade deal – it has been painfully discussed for years . . . if six months later, they say: ‘What we negotiated with you, we don’t know how to respect it’, then that means that nothing is respectable anymore.”

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