PM’s priorities are on this side of the Atlantic, says Brexiteer

Liz Truss takes ‘strong-armed’ approach to US trade deal

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Liz Truss has been urged to ignore “awkward” Joe Biden and “plough on” with her plan to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol. Britain’s new Prime Minister is meeting with Mr Biden today in New York, where both are attending the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) and the US President is understood to be ready to tell her to restart talks with Brussels with a view to thrashing out a solution.

The protocol is the mechanism agreed between the UK and the EU with the aim of preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland aligned with some of the bloc’s rules and regulations.

Unionist critics have claim it has in fact resulted in a border down the Irish Sea. Ms Truss’s Northern Ireland Bill, introduced when she was Foreign Secretary, aims to “fix” the problems with what the Government calls “durable solutions” aimed at ensuring goods can flow freely within the UK.

However, Mr Biden has voiced concerns that any move to ditch the protocol could undermine the landmark 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and jeopardise peace.

If Biden is going to be awkward, then she must plough on with the protocol

David Jones MP

David Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West and deputy chairman of the European Research Group, told the PM had the right approach.

He explained: “I think that she is prioritising Northern Ireland.

“If Biden is going to be awkward, then she must plough on with the protocol.”

Earlier this week Ms Truss also indicated a mooted trade deal with the USA was unlikely to be agreed for several years.

Assessing the situation, ex-diplomat Ray Bassett suggested that if Ms Truss was successful in her stated aim of “fixing” problems associated with the protocol to everyone’s satisfaction, it would make any future US/UK trade deal easier to negotiate.

Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas told “The USA is not an easy country to do a trade deal with, regardless of who in the White House.

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“However if the NI Protocol was resolved, it would help to remove one obstacle to it.”

Speaking yesterday, Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, said when the two met Mr Biden would will encourage the UK and the EU to work out an effective outcome that ensures there is no threat to the fundamental principles of the Good Friday Agreement”.

He added: “And he will speak in some detail to her about that.”

The adviser said Mr Biden will “communicate his strong view that the Good Friday Agreement – which is the touchstone of peace and stability in Northern Ireland – must be protected.

He stressed: “And we must collectively take steps – the US, the UK, the parties in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland – to ensure that it is protected.”

Ms Truss said: “I’ve always been clear my preference is for a negotiated settlement to deal with those issues and I will continue to seek that.

“But what I will not allow is for this situation to drift.”

Downing Street has also said Ms Truss yesterday had a “constructive” conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron at UNGA77 lasting about half-an-hour – but did not discuss issues related to either the Northern Ireland Protocol or unauthorised migrant crossings of the Channel

During the Conservative Party leadership campaign, Ms Truss ruffled feathers in Paris by refusing to say whether she saw Mr Macron as a “friend or foe”.

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