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UK isolated over Northern Ireland Protocol as US-EU alliance rules out renegotiation

UK isolated over Northern Ireland Protocol as US-EU alliance rules out renegotiation
The UK’s isolation over its plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol has been underlined by a new US-EU alliance ruling out a renegotiation.

The UK’s isolation over its plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol has been underlined by a new US-EU alliance ruling out a renegotiation.

A delegation of US politicians, led by a close ally of Joe Biden, agreed a joint statement with members of the European Parliament, after a meeting in Paris.

It calls on Boris Johnson to abandon planned legislation to override the international agreement, arguing the Protocol “protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts”.

“We agree that renegotiating the Protocol is not an option,” the statement reads, the congressman Brendan Boyle announced after the inter-parliamentary meeting.

The joint stance comes just hours after Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, resisted pressure to back down after hosting the US delegation at her country retreat of Chevening on Saturday.

In stark contrast, she is understood to have insisted the UK is “defending the Good Friday agreement” – not endangering it – and warned she will not let the “situation drag on”.

The crisis threatens a hugely damaging trade war if the EU carries out its threat to retaliate for what it considers to be a breach of the deal the prime minister signed and hailed as “fantastic” in 2019.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has also warned that rewriting the Protocol unilaterally will kill any lingering UK hopes of a free trade deal with the United States.

The UK argues the legislation is needed to remove trade border checks in the Irish Sea and persuade the Democratic Unionist Party to end its boycott of power-sharing at Stormont.

However, it goes much further than customs controls – also targeting the role of the European Court of Justice in overseeing disputes and aiming to restore the UK’s ability to decide VAT rates.

The EU insists it has put forward proposals to ease the burden of checks and points to the UK’s refusal to sign up to common veterinary rules to reduce the need for much of the bureaucracy.

Last week, the prime minister admitted he signed up to the trade barriers created by the Northern Ireland Protocol – while saying he hoped the EU would not “apply” them.

The legislation has not yet been published, but is expected to be released within weeks – and could be voted through the Commons as early as next month.

The delegation is led by Richard Neal, a senior member of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, who called the talks with Ms Truss “frank”.

He tweeted: “I urge good faith negotiations with the EU to find durable solutions for post-Brexit trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Ms Truss posted: “We discussed our cast-iron commitment to the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement, the importance of free trade and our condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”