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Saturday, November 27, 2021

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns Brexit could scupper transatlantic trade deal

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LONDON — There will be no trade deal between the U.K. and U.S. if Brexit tensions between Britain and the EU damage peace in Northern Ireland, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Boris Johnson.

The leading Democrat told the Chatham House think tank during a visit to London that her comment was “not a threat, it’s a prediction.” Pelosi also met Johnson in Downing Street, just days before the prime minister is set to meet U.S. President Joe Biden in the White House. 

London and Washington negotiated on a trade deal for about six months, but the talks were thrown into a deep freeze after the Biden administration won the 2020 election. 

Relations between Britain and the U.S. soured further during the fraught withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, and Johnson’s visit to the White House is being seen as an attempt to rekindle the relationship, which was given a boost this week with the launch of a strategic partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

But Biden is a close watcher of the Brexit process, and remains concerned that long-standing issues over the Northern Ireland protocol, which governs trade between the nation and Great Britain to protect the EU single market, could have an impact on the Good Friday Agreement that secured peace on the island of Ireland. 

Pelosi said a transatlantic trade deal was “very unlikely” if the Good Friday Agreement is harmed, but said she was glad the U.K. and EU are still talking about the issues around the protocol. “I’m so glad that more time has been given for the negotiations and the discussion, because they have to reach an agreement,” she said.

After their meeting, Downing Street said the prime minister “outlined the U.K.’s concerns with the way the Protocol is being implemented and the impact it is having on the people of Northern Ireland.”

Johnson will also head to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

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