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'Don’t even think about it': Pelosi warns UK that US trade deal is non-runner if Good Friday Agreement is threatened

“The Good Friday accord ended 700-years of conflict,” she told the London School of Economics last night.

Updated Apr 16th 2019, 3:21 PM

Pelosi visit to Ireland Source: Niall Carson

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY Pelosi has issued a strong warning to the UK that a US-UK trade deal is not going to happen if the Good Friday Agreement is weakened by the Brexit process. 

Speaking to the packed out ballroom at Iveagh House at the Department of Foreign Affairs, the US politician said she told “our friends in the UK” that the United States is a co-guarantor of the Agreement.

In her address, she said “it’s just not on the cards… don’t even think about it…” in reference to a US-UK trade deal. 

While US President Donald Trump has indicated that a deal would be on the table post-Brexit, he would have to get such move approved by Congress. 

Using strong language, Pelosi said  during her “high-level” meetings in the UK recently, she made it clear as to the purpose of the US delegation’s visit to Ireland this week.

“We made it clear that the Good Friday Accord for us, they are not just a peace agreement, it so much more elevated” due to the hundreds of years of conflict that ended with the signing of that document 21 years ago.

She added that the Good Friday Agreement is not just a peace agreement to the US, but a  value that she and her colleagues will protect. 

Pelosi said that the UK should “not think for one minute there is comfort for them” after Brexit that a US-UK deal will be be achieved.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said in his address that the UK has every right to determine its own destiny, but it cannot determine Ireland’s.

Her speech today reiterated what she said at the London School of Economics yesterday, where Pelosi said that it’s “very hard to pass a trade bill in the Congress in US, so there’s no given anyway”.

“But if there would be any weakening of the Good Friday accord, then there would be no chance whatsoever – a non-starter – for a US-UK trade agreement.”

She continued:

The Good Friday accord ended 700-years of conflict. 
It’s not just about the geography though, this is not a treaty only: it’s an ideal, it’s a value, it’s something that is a model to the world, and we don’t want that model to be something that can be bargained away in some other agreement.

Pelosi is to pay a visit to Áras an Uachtaráin as part of a Democrat Congressional delegation to Ireland, Northern Ireland, London and Stuttgart this week.

She will also visit the border and Derry in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Pelosi visit to Ireland Source: Niall Carson

A US-UK trade agreement is one of the ambitions of the British government post-Brexit, as part of the policy to strengthen ties with countries outside of the EU.

As the UK has failed to pass the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons three times, and failed to vote in favour of any other alternative, it’s had to request to delay the date upon which it was due to leave.

The UK was meant to leave the EU on 29 March, which was extended until 12 April and now has been extended again until 31 October at the very latest.

If MPs vote the Withdrawal Agreement through before 31 October, they will leave “on the first day of the following month”, according to European Council President Donald Tusk.

Speaking today, Tusk said that the long extension “ensures that all options remain on the table, such as ratification of the current Withdrawal Agreement, or extra time to rethink Brexit, if that were the wish of the British people”.

It also means that the UK will need to take part in European elections at the end of May.

Tusk said that during this extension, the UK should not be treated “as a second-category member state”.

I know that, on both sides of the Channel, everyone, including myself, is exhausted with Brexit, which is completely understandable. However, this is not an excuse to say: “let’s get it over with”, just because we’re tired.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said something similar today, when he said he was on a “Brexit break” and doesn’t want to talk about it at length this morning.

With reporting by Christina Finn

 

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