Biden caught between useless EU and useful UK over Brussels errors in Ireland

Joe Biden wants to avoid getting “mixed up” with Brexit and the Irish border following a week of heightened tensions over the province caused by the European Commission’s ill-considered decision to impose an internal customs border on the island for vaccines.

Biden’s political brand owes much to his Irish roots. He has taken numerous opportunities in the past to weigh in over Brexit and the Northern Ireland issue to help reinforce those links. As tensions heated up in September concerning a UK-EU trade deal, Biden said the Good Friday Agreement must not be a “casualty of Brexit”. Shortly after he insisted there could be no “guarded border”, he would “make sure” of it.

Following a calm resolution to the trade talks at the end of 2020, it was the EU, not the UK, that was the first to threaten the GFA in its effort to escalate the row with Britain over the Oxford vaccine, putting the White House in a compromising position.

“Whatever the EU or the UK does [in relation to Northern Ireland] the administration wants to tread carefully, wait and see what develops, and not take a hard position. It’s a tough one because you have the UK, Ireland and the EU, and you can’t win,” a White House source told the Telegraph.

“With Biden, though, there is this sense of closeness with Ireland. But his officials never wanted to get mixed up in Brexit, you only get into trouble.”

The source added: “It is a tightrope for him. Obviously, he wants to have a good relationship with the EU and the UK. At the same time there’s a considerable Irish American constituency here. It’s a tightrope he could fall off.”

Indeed he could. Democrats are known to be livid with the UK for the Brexit referendum in 2016, which many of them blame for Donald Trump’s election victory later that year, however, since the November election which eventually saw Biden prevail over Trump in a tight race, Boris Johnson has pulled all the right the moves and the EU has not.

Biden is expected to carry on Trump’s popular battle with China over gaming international trade and suppressing human rights. Britain stands by America’s fight in the far east having condemned Beijing over human rights in its former territory, Hong Kong. The EU by contrast, signed a secretive investment deal.

It is a similar story over Russia, with the EU rushing to finish a Gazprom pipeline in the Baltic before the project can get knocked off by US sanctions. The EU’s anti-American activities are even playing out over Covid. Yesterday, the EU approved Russia’s dubious Sputnik vaccine that neither the UK nor the US has shown any interest in approving.

“I take the floor to just congratulate Russia for this success, it’s good news for the whole of mankind because it means we are going to have more tools to face the pandemic,” said a fawning Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs Commissioner.

The Telegraph quoted a top US source with links to the Biden administration: “The optics are not good to have the EU’s high representative in Moscow as Navalny is in a glass cage…It does look like the Russians played Borrell.”

A former Obama administration national security official said: “There is a lot of emphasis here on establishing a united front of [European] allies towards Russia and China.

“Borrell’s visit to Moscow provides yet further evidence of the need for early conversations across the Atlantic on how the US and EU deal with Russia.”

US sources now talk about “compartmentalising” America’s “relationships in diplomacy”. Given the stark contrast between the EU and the UK, that seems fanciful.