Biden warned to stay away as Hoey warns Good Friday Agreement in peril

Leo Varadkar says he ‘has regrets’ over Northern Ireland Protocol

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Joe Biden has been warned he needs to cancel his forthcoming trip to Northern Ireland in April because the EU and UK’s Brexit deal threatens to topple the Good Friday Agreement. The warning from Brexiteer Baroness Hoey has come as the European Commission’s vice president Maros Sefcovic briefed that the UK is prepared to heavily compromise and stay within the terms of the protocol.

The row comes as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) made it clear it will not back any deal that keeps the Protocol in place.

The protocol was created as a compromise keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market to allow Brexit to happen but with border checks with the rest of the UK.

After talks with Rishi Sunak today, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the UK’s Prime Minister faces a ‘big moment’ to agree ‘the right deal’ on post-Brexit trade.

He warned Mr Sunak his party “willl not compromise” on its red lines in ending the hated protocol.

The Europe editor for Ireland RTE main broadcaster, Tony Connelly, reported that Sefcovic told ambassadors in Brussels for the EU 27 members “things could move quickly in the coming days.”

He added: “The European Commission vice president is understood to have said that the deal will be within the existing Protocol.”

The briefing outaged Ms Hoey, a former Europe minister Labour yet an ardent Brexiteer who is close to the DUP.

She said: “On this information so far absolutely no chance of Executive being formed at Stormont Belfast Agreement shattered and no point in Biden visiting in April Tinkering was NEVER going to change the fundamental issue -Sovereignty.”

President Biden had been making plans to come to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which saw a cessation of violence in the Province.

But he has not officially announced the trip as the White House wants resolution on the Northern Ireland protocol row beforehand.

The US Democrats have been leaning heavily on the UK to capitulate to EU demands on the protocol and threatening to block any future trade deal if they do not follow Brussels’ line.

Meanwhile, concerns about Northern Ireland’s continued peace and the Good Friday Agreement have been underlined by hundreds of posters going up around the Province of Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadker with a quote: “The possibility of a return to violence is very real!”

Sunday Express political editor David Williamson, who is visiting Northern Ireland, said that the “posters are everywhere.”

He described them as “shocking.”

Speaking to broadcasters in Downing Street after returning from a trip the Northern Ireland, Rishi Sunak insisted that it was a question of finding solutions to practical problems.

He said: “Today I had positive conversations with political parties in Northern Ireland about our ongoing discussions to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Now it is clear that we need to find solutions to the practical problems that the protocol is causing families and business in Northern Ireland, as well as address the democratic deficit.

“There is more work to do, and that’s why my ministerial colleagues and I will continue talking to the European Union intensely to find solutions that protect the Belfast Good Friday agreement and Northern Ireland’s place in our single market.”


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But Sir Jeffrey made it clear that the Prime Minister has little wwriggle room if he wants to keep the DUP and their Tory Brexiteer allies in the European Research Group on side.

He said: “Our seven tests I think reflect the previous commitments that have been given by the UK Government, both in their command paper in July 2021 and in other statements made.

“So it is not a question of us compromising, it is a question of the UK Government honouring the commitments they have made to the people of Northern Ireland, delivering on those commitments in the negotiations with the European Union and providing the basis upon which Northern Ireland’s place within the UK and its internal market can be respected and protected and our institutions here can be restored on a stable basis.”

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