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Boris Johnson was issued a series of warnings from across the US political sphere that a trade deal would be off the table if peace in Northern Ireland were to be affected by the Brexit negotiations. Both US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidate Joe Biden insisted they would not give their seal of approval to an agreement with the UK unless peace on the island of Ireland is guaranteed. Congressman Bill Keating however warned the politicians are not “threatening” the British Government but merely stating the “political reality” the UK will face in a no deal Brexit scenario.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Congressman Keating said: “I’ve heard some of the comments from officials in the UK, and I got the sense they thought the US was posing some kind of threat.
“Whether it was Speaker Pelosi or former Vice-President Biden, it’s really not the case.”
The Democrat pointed out members of his party had long been reluctant to contribute to securing a trade agreements with international partners.
But with a very strong Irish lobby deeply enmeshed in US political life, the threat of the Good Friday Agreement falling through could become a further obstacle to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hopes for a stronger trade agreement with Washington DC.
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Mr Keating continued: “Any time, historically, we put together a free trade agreement, it’s very hard to get Democratic Party members involved.
“We had great support for a trade agreement with the EU prior to Brexit, we have a majority bipartisan commitment for a free trade agreement with the EU and a parallel one with the UK.
“However, just getting those votes is hard and the political reality here is we will lose those Democratic votes to put this together.
“People shouldn’t see it a threat, we’re sort of communicating the reality of where we stand in terms of any free trade agreement.”
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The law recognises Congress has the right to define the objectives and priorities of US trade negotiators in talks with potential partners.
TPA legislation also allows policymakers to establish the requirements the President has to follow through the negotiating process.
The House of Representatives is currently under the control of the Democratic Party, with new elections scheduled to coincide with the Presidential Election later this year.
The Senate is a Republican majority but with 35 seats up for grab on November 3, the Democrats are expected to put up a fight to flip the Congress.
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Despite Congressman Keating’s reassurance that the US is not seeking to interfere with the Brexit process, former Vice-President Joe Biden sparked an outrage after wading into the debate surrounding the controversial Internal Market Bill the Prime Minister put forward last week.
The legislation has been tabled as an opportunity for the UK Government to ensure the smooth circulation of goods between all four nations in the event of a no deal Brexit.
But the European Union has accused the Prime Minister of seeking to override the Northern Ireland protocol enshrined in the withdrawal agreement struck between Brussels and London in January 2020.
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