President Joe Biden asked his officials to diplomatically reprimand the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for “endangering” the Northern Irish peace process in the wake of Brexit, as revealed Thursday by The Times.
The charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in the United Kingdom, Yael Lempert, met with the British Brexit negotiator, David Frost, to tell him that the Johnson government was “inflaming” tensions in Northern Ireland and the European Union (EU) over the controversy on trade controls at the EU border, adds the British newspaper.
Biden’s decision is unprecedented, says The Times, because a diplomatic reprimand between allies is not frequent.
According to the newspaper, the meeting between Lempert and Frost took place on the 3rd, but it comes to light hours before Biden and Boris Johnson hold their first bilateral meeting.
The newspaper adds that the chargé d’affaires asked Frost that the Government reach a negotiated agreement with the EU, even if it implied “unpopular compromises”, and expressed the “growing concern” of the American Administration.
Lempert is the most senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in London until Biden appoints his next ambassador.
This information, moreover, is published a day after the UK and the EU held a meeting in London to overcome the problems over the trade border between Britain and Northern Ireland after the Brexit.
At the end of a meeting with the Vice-President of the European Commission (EC), Maros Sefcovic, Frost acknowledged the lack of progress, although he stressed that these contacts have been “sincere” and will continue.
Under the 2020 Brexit agreement, Northern Ireland has remained in the single market, so customs checks for goods from Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) are made at Northern Irish ports, although it was agreed that these would come into force gradually.
Under the Northern Irish protocol, the trade border has been placed in the Irish Sea in order to avoid checks being made on the land border between the British province and the Republic of Ireland, to avoid a physical border between these territories and not to prejudice the peace process.
This “border” has provoked the discontent of the pro-British Protestant community in Northern Ireland because, for them, it means separating the province from the rest of the country.
As a result, the United Kingdom unilaterally decided to postpone the implementation of the phases of the protocol until at least this October.