Minister risks inflaming tensions with US over Northern Ireland

·2-min read
Minister risks inflaming tensions with US over Northern Ireland

A minister has risked stoking a transatlantic row over Brexit after urging senior members of the US congress to temper their language over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Conor Burns, a Northern Ireland minister and the UK’s special envoy for the Northern Ireland Protocol, has been in Washington this week to meet with US politicians after Britain published a new Bill this week which would allow the UK to unilaterally rip up parts of the contentious agreement with the EU.

The UK’s move to rewrite the Protocol - which avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland by setting up customs checks on some goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland - has led to concerns in Joe Biden’s administration and among senior members of US Congress that it could threaten the Good Friday Agreement and peace in the region.

But in comments to the Financial Times, reported on Wednesday morning, Mr Burns said: “There is a lot of lazy talk going on here that what we’re doing with the Protocol is endangering or imperilling peace.

“Everybody should be very temperate in their use of language. Remember that voices can echo and can encourage people who don’t have the interests of stability and calmness and order at heart.”

The new Northern Ireland Bill has sparked a fresh Brexit row with the EU which is set to re-start legal action against the UK for previous breaches of the Protocol. Brussels is also reported to be considering other legal steps including introducing tariffs on UK goods as well as outlining its own ideas for resolving problems with the Protocol.

Following the publication of the legislation on Monday the White House urged the UK to resolve its differences with the EU. “We support a strong and close EU-UK partnership.

“Transatlantic peace, security, and prosperity are best served by a strong UK, a strong EU, and the closest possible relationship between the two,” a White House spokesperson said.

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