Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi explicitly said Congress would never ratify a trade deal with Britain if the latter breaks international law and compromises the border in Ireland by breaking the Brexit withdrawal agreement. But Pelosi may never have to make that call, however, if Joe Biden is elected in November.
A trade deal would not get through the Biden White House in the first place and reach Congress if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson does the unthinkable.
“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
Johnson insists he is defending not threatening the Good Friday pact, which ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists.
It seems like things ought to be the other way around, but the issue of maintaining peace in Ireland may be more important to American politicians than it is to Boris Johnson and his conservatives in Britain. Many American officials and lawmakers including Joe Biden himself are of Irish Catholic descent and so are many of their constituents. And unlike conservatives in either country, Democrats actually care about, well, things in general.
This is an easy to call to make for most lawmakers even if they aren't personally invested in the outcome because the truth is a trade deal with Britain barely even matters from any economic perspective.
Britain is a relatively small consumer market for American goods and Americans are not particularly interested in British goods that don't involve alcohol. The economic impact of any trade deal would be negligible at best making this is an almost purely political decision.
If it's an almost entirely political decision, something like comprising the open border in Ireland would make it politically untenable.
The intervention by Biden, who nationwide polls show leading the race for Nov. 3’s U.S. election, prompted a sharp rebuke from an ex-leader of Johnson’s Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith, who advised him to focus on “riots” rather than Brexit.
“We don’t need lectures on the Northern Ireland peace deal from Mr Biden,” Duncan Smith told The Times. “If I were him I would worry more about the need for a peace deal in the USA to stop the killing and rioting before lecturing other sovereign nations.”
Look at this asshole.