JOE BIDEN’s administration has warned Boris Johnson they will not “simply back off” from their involvement in a tense Brexit row with the EU concerning Northern Ireland, as concerns were raised about the potential triggering of a safeguard clause by Britain.
Lord Frost issued a warning to the US President about getting involved in the ongoing row between Brussels and London on the post-Brexit trading arrangements. The Brexit Minister said the issue of the NI Protocol and the wider border question was “for us to decide and sort out with the EU as we wish” as dialogue continues between both sides.
The Tory peer also said if the UK and the EU cannot strike an agreement, Lord Frost said Britain will consider what is seen to be the nuclear option of triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The move would effectively tear up parts of the deal to avoid a hard border with Ireland, which he negotiated with the EU last December.
But Express.co.uk has learnt that Lord Frost’s comments have raised alarm bells in Washington with Senators and senior Biden administration officials who are concerned the triggering of Article 16 could undermine the Northern Ireland peace process.
White House sources last night said the US President had “a profound interest” in Northern Ireland and the “importance of peace and prosperity” surrounding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The administration insists the Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement, agreed after the Troubles.
One source made clear the UK Government must “uphold” the Good Friday Agreement “at all costs” stressing Washington was “involved in this matter and the UK must respect that.”
A senior insider added: “The President will continue to show his support for a prosperous Northern Ireland which is stable and this will not change.”
The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
But it has also created a new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne that have sparked anger among unionists and loyalists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.
The latest signal by Washington comes as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blamed the US President for a US trade deal not being agreed.
She told a Tory Party Conference Fringe Event on Tuesday there had been “a reaction against trade” in the US.
Ms Truss added: “And it’s significant in the 2016 US election that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump advocated not pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and so I think it’s an issue with trade and the debate about trade in the United States rather than an issue about the UK.”
Ms Truss made clear said she saw the relationship with Washington as “special but not exclusive.”
The US President expressed during a meeting with the Prime Minister last month that he was not interested in negotiating a free trade pact with the UK.
Democrats and republican politicians have also stressed the protection of the peace process in Northern Ireland would be a precursor condition to any trade deal being signed.
The signing of a US trade deal is seen as a major Brexit prize for Boris Johnson since the UK left the EU.
The Department for International Trade said it could boost the economy by an estimated £3.4billion.
Source: The Express.co.uk