Efforts to undermine NI protocol would not create environment for US-UK trade deal, White House says

In phone call with Truss, US president stressed importance of UK reaching a deal with EU over post-Brexit legislation

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday any efforts to undermine the Northern Ireland agreement would not create a conducive environment for trade talks between the United States and the United Kingdom.

“There is a no formal linkage on trade talks between the US and the UK and the Northern Ireland protocol, as we have said, but efforts to undo the Northern Ireland protocol would not create a conducive environment,” Ms Jean-Pierre said.

On Tuesday US president Joe Biden has stressed the importance of reaching an agreement with the EU over post-Brexit legislation on Northern Ireland in his first phone call with new British prime minister Liz Truss.

According to the White House’s account of the call, the two discussed their “shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast Agreement and the importance of reaching a negotiated agreement with the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol”.


The transatlantic relationship could be strained if Ms Truss pushes ahead with the plan to override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, with Mr Biden taking a keen interest in the issue.

She has supported the UK Northern Ireland Protocol Bill aimed at unilaterally scrapping the post-Brexit arrangements that have created checks on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland.

The new prime minister has appointed Conservative MP and staunch Brexiteer Chris Heaton-Harris as Northern Secretary in her cabinet reshuffle. The MP is a former chairman of the European Research Group of strongly pro-Brexit MPs.

There were reports the Northern brief had proved difficult to fill, with Penny Mordaunt and Sajid Javid said to have turned down the role.

The White House said Mr Biden and Ms Truss also “discussed the importance of continued close co-operation on global challenges, including supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression, addressing the challenges posed by China, preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon, and securing sustainable and affordable energy resources”.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the pair reflected on the “enduring strength” of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and United States.

“The prime minister looked forward to working closely with President Biden as leaders of free democracies to tackle shared challenges, particularly the extreme economic problems unleashed by Putin’s war,” she said.

Earlier, Mr Biden was the first world leader to congratulate Ms Truss on her new position.

Just as Ms Truss finished her speech and formally entered Downing Street, the US president tweeted: “Congratulations to Prime Minister Liz Truss.

“I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our countries and working in close cooperation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.” — PA