An influential US Congressman says there’s been “dismay” in Washington DC over the latest Brexit developments.
Richard Neal has warned that the British government’s move to overwrite parts of the Withdrawal Agreement will have consequences on a possible US-UK trade deal.
He’s also said there was ‘surprise’ at the suddenness of the British move – suggesting nobody was even talking about such potential changes only a few days ago.
Congressman Neal is the chair of the Friends of Ireland caucus, but also the chair of the Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill – the committee which will ultimately have to sign off on any eventual trade deal between the UK and US.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said there will be no such deal if the Good Friday Agreement is compromised.
Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Congressman Neal said the Good Friday Agreement was the result of people taking “extraordinary risks.”
‘Dismay’ in US over UK government’s latest Brexit moves – Congressman Richard Neal
00:00:00 / 00:00:00
He observed: “The Good Friday Agreement was a compromise.
“The Brexit agreement that was successfully negotiated with the European Union was a compromise. But within the compromise, the Irish Protocol was protected.
“[Unionists] weren’t happy about it, but they understood there were some things that would have to be done. That’s the tweaking – now all of a sudden the conversation is advertised as being more tweaking to the tweaking.
“I think we’ve been very dismayed here, for those of us who have been part of this in the United States… understanding that America is a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.
“We do guard it as a model for what you can do to achieve conflict resolution.”
Congressman Neal said the Good Friday Agreement has been an “extraordinary success”, and two generations of young people in Northern Ireland have now grown up without the violence of the Troubles.
He stressed we cannot be talking about anything that might sacrifice the accomplishments of the deal.
He also noted that his own position has been “reinforced assertively” by Nancy Pelosi.
The congressman noted: “If you wish to have a bilateral trade agreement – which I think is important and desirable – there can be no threat to the Good Friday Agreement, and no conversation about the establishment of a border.”