There will be no UK-US trade agreement if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the Irish Parliament on Wednesday.
Pelosi, who is leading a Congressional delegation to Europe, reaffirmed in Dublin a message she had delivered just two days before in London that it is vital, after Brexit, to keep a “seamless border” between the Irish Republic, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, ruled by Britain.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must ensure that nothing happens in the Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday accord, including, but not limited to, the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland,” Pelosi told a special joint sitting of Ireland’s Parliament.
“As you face the challenges posed by Brexit, know that the United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans in the House and in the Senate, stand with you,” she added.
‘Large scale trade deal’
Both the EU and the UK have vowed that the UK’s exit from the EU would not result in a hard border in Ireland over fears it would endanger the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which put an end to three decades of deadly sectarian violence.
But a backstop agreement included in the Withdrawal Agreement agreed by British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU leaders in November was heavily criticised by Brexiteers and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government.
It plans for Northern Ireland to remain in the bloc’s customs union should another solution not be found before the end of a transition period.
The Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected three times by British lawmakers.
Pelosi’s comments are likely to annoy members of the ruling Conservative party who insist that a hard Brexit — which include the UK leaving the bloc’s single market and customs union — is necessary in order for the country to strike trade agreements with third countries.
US President Donald Trump reiterated last month that the country wants to negotiate a “large scale Trade Deal with the United Kingdom.”