Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for “a bit of respect” from the EU as he claimed its leaders “serially” talk about Northern Ireland “as if it were somehow a different country from the UK”. The UK and EU are currently at loggerheads over the implementation of post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland, otherwise known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, ahead of the end of a “grace period” for some border checks at the end of June. The row has threatened to overshadow the UK’s hosting of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, this weekend, during which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed some in the EU needed to “get into their heads” that the UK is a single country.
In a recent podcast, Peter Foster, public policy editor for The Financial Times, argued US President Joe Biden will ultimately side with Britain and will quietly put pressure on the EU.
He explained: “The truth is Brits have a point here.
“Northern Ireland has unique circumstances and if you read the protocol, it is actually a jumble of contradictions…
“And just as Boris Johnson perhaps signed it with his fingers behind his back, the Irish government told the EU this deal was going to work.”
Mr Foster added: “So I can see a world where actually yes, there is a strong Irish lobby in America but some of these issues that are coming up are real issues created by this border in the Irish Sea.
“So the Americans will be quietly putting pressure on Brussels to be a bit more realistic because this does create a border inside the internal market of the UK.”
Mr Foster insisted in the “Payne Politics” podcast the EU needs to be really careful about the fight it picks because if Northern Ireland is in real unrest and Brussels keeps “banging on about regulations”, it might find itself on the wrong side of the argument.
This weekend, Mr Biden urged Mr Johnson to ensure the Northern Ireland peace process is protected in his bitter row with Brussels, the White House disclosed earlier today.
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US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden – who has spoken of his pride in his Irish roots – held a “candid discussion” with the Prime Minister about the issue during the course of the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Answering questions from American reporters, Mr Sullivan said the President had expressed his views with “deep sincerity” but declined to go into detail, suggesting Mr Biden may have delivered his message with some feeling.
He said: “All I’m going to say: they did discuss this issue. They had a candid discussion of it in private.
“The President naturally, and with deep sincerity, encouraged the Prime Minister to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the progress made under it.
“The specifics beyond that, I’m not going to get into.”
Mr Sullivan would not be drawn on whether the President had linked the issue to a free trade deal with the UK and did not specify when the conversation took place.
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The two leaders held a bilateral meeting on Thursday before the main summit began and afterwards Mr Johnson played down any differences between them on the issue.
Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that a further grace period for the Northern Ireland Protocol would be “very problematic”.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Martin said: “I think the UK Government are under no illusions about where the EU is coming from in relation to the Protocol.
“But the European Union is willing and very engaged in endeavouring in trying to find the solutions to the issues that have been raised in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“And, in my view, the channels do exist to get this resolved.”