Biden should help Northern Ireland in EU stand-off, unionists say

Sir Julian King discusses the Northern Ireland Protocol

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Unionists want Mr Biden to use his presidential clout to put pressure on the EU to accept major changes to post-Brexit trading arrangements. The Democratic Unionist Party is refusing to share power with Sinn Fein unless its objections to the Northern Ireland Protocol are addressed.

Unionists say the deal has weakened Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom and harmed trade with Great Britain.

It was suggested last year that Mr Biden could visit Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, signed in April 1998.

However, last month former Congressman Bruce Morrison – a Democrat deeply involved in the peace process – said Mr Biden would be “loathe to come and find that Stormont was not running”.

Former Brexit minister David Jones said Mr Biden could use a visit to the province to push for a breakthrough on the protocol.

And he said unless the EU adopts a “more reasonable approach” the Good Friday Agreement will “be in some jeopardy”.

Mr Biden is widely expected to run for a second term as president in next year’s elections, but Mr Jones wants him to use a visit as more than a “campaigning opportunity”.

He said it would be “statesmanlike for President Biden to come” and “urge the EU to recognise that the protocol manifestly isn’t working” and is “actually undermining the Good Friday Agreement”.

He said: “He needs to get the Euro-peans to understand how dangerous it is to allow this situation to continue.”

A recent poll found just 35 per cent of unionists would vote in favour of the agreement, which is also known as the Belfast Agreement, if the historic 1998 referendum was held today.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson warned that as things stand Mr Biden may be coming for the “25th anniversary of the defunct Belfast Agreement”.

He said: “If he wants to have a restoration of the institutions then he has got to understand there are two sides to this coin. Unless the unionist view is facilitated and recognised there will be no institutions for him to celebrate.”

DUP MP Ian Paisley doubted the US President would play a constructive role in resolving the stand-off.

He said: “He will do whatever the Irish lobby tell him to do.

“Given they have such a minimal understanding of the protocol and have now dressed it up as a nationalist totem to be supported at all costs.

Mr Biden will just cling to it as something that has to be supported.”

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