London (Brussels Morning) Newly elected US President Joe Biden made his first call to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, reportedly stressing the importance of protecting the Northern Ireland peace agreement.
While Biden’s first call was reserved for Canadian President Justin Trudeau, the leaders of Ireland, Germany and France were called soon afterward, as well as the UK, although the order in which those calls were made has not been disclosed.
“They talked about the importance of implementing Brexit in such a way that upholds the Good Friday Agreement”, said a British official to Reuters in reference to the phone call.
“The [prime minister] assured the president-elect that would be the case”.
Biden has previously mentioned the stakes at risk should Johnson’s government push ahead with a new bill – Internal Market Bill (IMB) – designed to ensure seamless trade within the UK after Brexit.
Britain formally left the EU earlier this year but has been granted a transition period with access to the EU’s single market and customs union until 31 December.
The UK and EU have yet to form a trade deal with a possibility the transition may end without a free trade agreement in place.
Johnson says the IMB is a safety net should a deal not materialise, but some of its clauses could potentially jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement 1998 with a hard border emerging between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the only land border the UK has with the EU.
Should that occur, Biden has previously said that a US-UK trade deal could be off the table.
The bill’s future suffered a blow yesterday as the House of Lords voted down the clauses that challenged international law.
The government has maintained they are a crucial safety net and is planning to re-table them in the Commons.
Johnson is hoping to find common ground with Biden on other issues, however, such as climate change and combating COVID-19, mentioned on the phone call as confirmed by the Irish American’s transition team.
“The President-elect expressed his interest in cooperating with the UK, NATO, and the EU on shared transAtlantic priorities, and reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland”, they added.