US President Joe Biden has warned Boris Johnson and the UK government about ‘inflaming’ tensions in Ireland and the EU amid the fallout from Brexit.
n a meeting with Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost, America’s most senior diplomat Yael Lempert said she was told to issue the UK government with a demarche, a diplomatic communication that is not typically exchanged between allied countries.
The revelations, reported by the London Times come from UK government minutes, and follow recent failed discussions between Mr Frost and the European Commission’s vice president Maroš Šefčovič.
The UK government was briefed on June 3 over President Biden’s “growing concern” about Brexit and Northern Ireland.
Ms Lempert said that the bitter dispute between the EU and the UK was “commanding the attention” of the American president in the lead-up to his meeting with Mr Johnson.
The memo from the meeting went on to say that the US “strongly urged” the UK to come to a “negotiated settlement”, even if that led to “unpopular compromises”.
Ms Lempert added that there was also great concern over the stalemate on implementing the Northern Ireland protocol.
It was mentioned that Mr Biden would bring up the UK’s “increasingly heated rhetoric” of ignoring the protocol both in his meeting with Mr Johnson, and publicly in the G7 meeting this weekend.
The memo also said that coming to an agreement on EU agricultural demands “wouldn’t negatively affect the chances of reaching a US/UK free trade deal”.
Mr Biden is due to meet with the UK Prime Minister today ahead of the G7 summit.
Meanwhile, speaking on Air Force One ahead of President Biden’s arrival in the UK national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US had been “crystal clear” on the need for the Good Friday Agreement “as the foundation for peaceful coexistence in Northern Ireland”.
After being asked if Mr Johnson was “taking steps to imperil” the agreement, he added: “I’m not going to characterise that at this point. I’m only going to say that President Biden is going to make statements in principle on this front.
“He’s not issuing threats or ultimatums, he’s going to simply convey his deep-seated belief that we need to stand behind and protect this protocol.”
Earlier this week, the EU warned the UK that they would act swiftly should the Northern Ireland protocol not be followed.
“Trust, which should be at the heart of every partnership, needs to be restored,” Mr Šefčovič said.
“If the UK were to take further unilateral action in the coming weeks, the EU will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations.”
He also said “pacta sunt servanda”, which is Latin for agreement must be kept.
However, Mr Johnson said that fixing the issue was “easily doable”.
“I think that what we want is something that enables us to protect trade flows, east/west, as well as north/south.”
In addition, the UK government released a statement today saying: “The UK will continue to put forward detailed proposals, as we have throughout this year, and looks forward to discussing any proposals the EU may put forward.”