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UK foreign secretary blames EU for threat to Irish border



Any threat to peace in Ireland as a result of Brexit is due to the EU’s “politicization of the issue,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday during a visit to Washington.

After the U.K. government attracted huge criticism for its decision to rewrite elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Raab sought to use the visit to the U.S. capital to build transatlantic support for the controversial Internal Market Bill — and also turned up the rhetoric against the EU.

Speaking at a press conference alongside U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Raab told reporters he had “positive conversations not just with [Pompeo] and the administration but also with congressmen and women from both sides of the political aisle” on the bill and its implications for the Good Friday Agreement.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to be clear that the threat to the Good Friday Agreement … has come from the EU’s politicization of the issue,” Raab told reporters, adding: “Our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid any extra infrastructure at the border between the north and the south is absolute.”

Top U.S. Democrat Nancy Pelosi last week warned there was “absolutely no chance” of a U.K.-U.S. trade deal if the move causes Brexit to undermine the Good Friday Agreement maintaining peace in Ireland. Raab noted during his press conference that he would meet Pelosi later Wednesday.

Raab called the U.K.’s action in bringing forward the domestic bill “defensive in relation to what the EU is doing,” adding it was both “precautionary” and “proportionate.”

“What we cannot have is the EU seeking to erect a regulatory border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain,” he said. Raab supported the U.K. government agreeing that the Brexit deal would create a trade border down the Irish Sea.

Pompeo in turn offered his support to the U.K. government, telling reporters that “we trust the United Kingdom.”

“We’ve made clear our view of the importance of the Good Friday Agreement, we know the complexity of the situation and we’ve done what we can to provide assistance where we can,” the U.S. diplomat said.

“In the end this will be a set of decisions with respect to this that the United Kingdom makes and I have great confidence that they will get this right,” he added.

Raab also used his speech to talk up the transatlantic alliance, a key component of Boris Johnson’s foreign policy targeting in particular the lucrative prize of a post-Brexit U.S.-U.K. trade deal.

On the trade deal currently being negotiated between U.K. Trade Secretary Liz Truss and her U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer, Raab said he and Pompeo were “confident” they could secure a “win-win deal.”

That would have to be passed by the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress, for which Pelosi’s support would be key.



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