Joe Biden Warns Britain Over Brexit

Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden has become the latest U.S. politician to express concern over the U.K.'s Brexit bill, warning that it could have consequences for a future U.S.-U.K. trade deal.

Boris Johnson's British government has voted in favor of a bill that would give it powers to override parts of the Brexit agreement with the European Union (E.U.), which his own government negotiated and is legally binding. This amendment is to prevent, Johnson said, the E.U. being able to dictate where British borders were.

Critics say that this harms the Good Friday Agreement which brokered peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Biden wrote on Twitter: "We can't allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

"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."

His comments are the latest in a number of warning from top U.S. officials, including from House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi who said there was "absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress" if Britain undermined the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

On Tuesday evening, four senior members of Congress wrote a letter to Johnson outlining a similar warning, saying a trade deal could be blocked.

The letter, starting by outlining how close the U.S.-U.K. relationship was, was signed by Democratic congressmen Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, and Bill Keating and Republican Congressman Peter King.

Joe Biden
The Democrat candidate warned of the consequences of the U.K.'s latest Brexit bill for U..S-U.K. trade Getty

It said: "We were so disturbed by the reports about your government's efforts to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement that, if true, could have disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement and broader process to maintain peace on the island of Ireland.

"It is necessary for us to emphasize how this issue could directly affect the U.S.-U.K. bilateral relationship even beyond the broad, bipartisan support for the people of Northern Ireland. Many in the United States and in Congress consider the issues of the Good Friday Agreement and a potential U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement inextricably linked.

"We therefore urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement and look to ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland and future options for the bilateral relationship between our two countries."

It comes as U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spent Wednesday in Washington trying to ally fears that the U.K.'s agreement could undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

In contrast to the warning from Biden, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "We trust the UK, I am confident they'll get it right."

The aim of the Internal Market Bill, according to Johnson, is to ensure goods can move freely between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The bill would also allow the government to disapply previous agreements relating to the movement of goods including those applying to Northern Ireland, which it was agreed during the Brexit agreement, would stay closely aligned to the single market to avoid a barrier between itself and the Republic of Ireland which will still be the E.U. single market.

The government's plans also run contrary to the Northern Ireland protocol contained within the Withdrawal agreement signed between the U.K. and E.U., which exists to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in line with the 1998 Good Friday agreement which former President Bill Clinton played an instrumental role in helping to forge.