Senior Brexiteers have heavily criticised U.S President Joe Biden after members of his administration and US diplomats demanded Britain to make compromises on border checks in Northern Ireland to appease the EU and prevent an inflammation of tension on the island of Ireland.
Biden is expected to meet with prime minister Boris Johnson later today in what is his first overseas visit since being elected, with reports suggesting he will double down on warnings not to rock the boat in the province.
Diplomats have already conveyed the same message to Britain’s chief negotiator Lord Frost, and Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday evening: “Any steps that imperil or undermine the Good Friday Agreement will not be welcomed by the US.”
Inflaming tensions himself upon his arrival, Biden addressed US troops at RAF Midenhall in Suffolk, quoting lines from Irish poet Yeats’ Easter 1916, a nod to the Easter Rising: “All changed, changed utterly; A terrible beauty is born.”
His intervention into Britain’s internal affairs was not well received by Brexiteers. Conservative MP Peter Bone told MailOnline: It isn’t anything to do with President Biden. It would be very strange if we were to comment on a domestic issue relating to a part of the US. It is an internal matter.”
Brexit stalwart John Redwood urged Biden to get his priorities straight, saying that if he wants “to back a good outcome on the island of Ireland he needs to press the EU to respect the UK internal market and the views of the majority in Northern Ireland. It is the EU disrupting trade.”
The new DUP leader Edwin Poots was more forthright, accusing the U.S President of attempting to “drive a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement”.
Mr Poots told the BBC: “This is effectively a constitutional change. Would president Biden for example allow Alaska, which is separate and distinct from the rest of the land block of the USA, but still part of the USA, to be taking laws from Canada, and have its laws applied from Canada?”
Co-author of the Good Friday Agreement, Lord Trimble told the U.S President he was “wrong” to assert that imposition of the Northern Ireland Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement and urged Biden to “resist attempts by EU countries to make him believe that it does”.
Meanwhile, an anonymous Tory MP told Politico’s Playbook that “America should remember who their allies are… unfortunately he’s (Biden) so senile that he probably won’t remember what we tell him anyway.
“Unless an aide is listening I’m not sure he’s going to remember for very long.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted on Thursday that the EU has “bent over backwards” to make arrangements on the island of Ireland work, claiming that the Protocol must be adhered to, comments which former Labour MP Baroness Hoey called “complete rubbish”.
“The EU has no interest in Northern Ireland – they are using it as a weapon to punish the UK,” Hoey tweeted.
“They want to break up the Union and are being aided by the Irish nationalist bias of the American President.”