Published On: Thu, Feb 18th, 2021

Joe Biden may ‘welcome mediating role’ if EU-UK tensions rise after NI Protocol backlash | World | News


Joe Biden realises Europe is ‘indispensable partner’ says expert

Joe Biden’s victory in the Presidential election in November set off a wave of panic within Westminster. The Democrat spoke out against Brexit when he was the Vice President to former President Barack Obama in the run-up to the EU referendum. He made it clear that he believed it was a mistake for Britain to leave the trade bloc, while Mr Obama claimed a post-Brexit Britain would be “at the back of the queue” behind the EU for a trade deal with the US.

The new President also took every opportunity during the Brexit negotiations to remind Downing Street of his Irish roots — meaning he was much more likely to prioritise the EU member state of Ireland rather than the UK.

Before a Brexit deal had been reached, he tweeted: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

However, just weeks after Mr Biden’s inauguration, George W Bush’s former aide, Peter Rough, told Express.co.uk that the new President would be more likely to take a middle ground if tensions grew between the EU and UK.

He explained: “Clearly, the Trump administration was happy to [side] with Great Britain, and the President himself was pro-Brexit.

“But the Americans weren’t really working on that issue.

US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen (Image: Getty)

Biden may take a

Biden may take a “mediating” role if a spat between the EU and UK arises (Image: Getty)

“It was considered an issue that the Brits could work out with Brussels and negotiations proceeded a-pace.

“The US did not involve itself in thinking about the future architecture of Europe post-Brexit.

“The Biden administration is different — they would welcome any mediating role if it became necessary.

“One should expect more involvement as an administration — I don’t know how involved, if it’s reached that level yet.

“I think they would consider themselves as the honest brokers.”

However, he added: “This is what Biden-friendly analysts argue — that Biden would play an active and mediating role.”

He noted that this could, therefore, be a “skewed analysis”.

READ MORE:  Joe Biden ‘ready to support UK’ over EU’s Northern Ireland blunder

The Northern Ireland Protocol has been in place since January 1

The Northern Ireland Protocol has been in place since January 1 (Image: Express)

Even so, this perspective contrasts with the array of voices who feared Mr Biden would be biased towards the EU in the event of a spat with Britain.

Growing tensions with trade at the Irish Sea border mean some political pundits are expecting another spat between the UK and the EU soon.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was created to reduce any hard border on the island of Ireland.

Northern Ireland still follows the rules of the EU’s customs union and single market, while it is officially no longer part of the bloc along with the rest of the UK.

A border was put up along the Irish Sea instead.

Just days after the transition period ended on January 1, business leaders complained that there were “significant problems” on the Irish Sea trade border as freight was delayed.

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Biden with then President Barack Obama in Ireland

Biden with then President Barack Obama in Ireland (Image: Getty)

Biden's relatives in Ireland cheering after his presidential victory in November

Biden’s relatives in Ireland cheering after his presidential victory in November (Image: Getty)

Drivers struggled to come to terms with the new customs rules, leading to reports of supply chain disruption, near-empty supermarket shelves and bans on seeds, potatoes and even carrots.

The DUP leader in Westminster, Jeffrey Donaldson, also pushed for Mr Biden to pursue a mediating role in these ongoing post-Brexit problems.

He said: “I would say to President Biden and his team that they need to join in encouraging economic stability to return to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

“They should encourage the EU and the UK to address the difficulties that the Northern Ireland Protocol has for the economy to avoid friction along the border.”

Despite these pleas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly reassured Mr Biden that he would honour his Brexit deal with the EU this week during an interview with US TV — indicating that he would not be lifting the Protocol any time soon.

It’s also worth noting that the EU’s recent vaccine farce is more likely to have shown that the President’s loyalties lie with maintaining peace and looking after Ireland, than prioritising the whole of the EU.

Boris Johnson celebrating the NI Protocol agreement with EU leaders in 2019

Boris Johnson celebrating the NI Protocol agreement with EU leaders in 2019 (Image: Getty)

Joe Biden realises Europe is ‘indispensable partner’ says expert

Brussels diplomats recently claimed Dublin could have even “picked up the Batphone to Biden”, when the EU briefly invoked an emergency measure to create a hard border on the island of Ireland last month.

However, Mr Biden will not want to cause long-term difficulties between Ireland and the rest of the bloc, because it would affect the Republic’s access to vaccine supplies.

A senior source told The Telegraph: “If all member states went it alone, then Ireland would have been at the back of the queue when it came to buying vaccines.

Even so, Downing Street will not have pinned its hopes on a future US trade deal, after Washington omitted any mention of trade discussions in its statement about Mr Biden’s first phone call with Mr Johnson last month.



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