More than 40 Republican senators have ignored Irish concerns to say they’ll come to Britain’s aid to ensure a trade deal with the US after Brexit.
The group of 45, led by Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, have written to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to “roar for Britain” like his hero Winston Churchill.
The letter makes no mention of Irish concerns over the Northern Ireland border. There are fears that if Britain doesn’t reach a trade agreement with the EU, it may lead to the return of hard border with customs checks policed by armed troops.
Politicians in Ireland and the UK say this should be avoided at all costs as it could undermine the Good Friday agreement and provoke a return to the violence of the Troubles.
That does not seem to concern Johnson who has promised to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, “do or die” whatever the cost.
Leading US Democrat senators like Nancy Pelosi say they will block a US-UK trade deal if the British don’t ensure there is no hard border in Ireland so that peace can be maintained.
Cotton and his colleagues seem to have no such concerns and make no mention of Ireland or the border issues. Instead, their letter, which has been obtained by the London Sunday Times, pledges “unwavering support for the special relationship between our two countries as Britain leaves the European Union”.
It says: “It is for your government to decide the terms of a Brexit deal with the EU. We will support whatever course Britain takes.
“If Britain leaves the EU with no deal, we will work with our administration, your government, and our friends in the EU to minimise disruptions in critical matters such as international air travel, financial transactions, and the shipment of medicine, food, and other vital supplies.
“We also will advocate for a new bilateral trade agreement, as early as your Brexit terms would allow, that reflects the centuries of open commerce between our nations.”
The Sunday Times says James Risch, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, and Richard Burr, who chairs the intelligence committee, are among the 45 signatories.
Referring again to Churchill, the letter to Johnson concludes: “Your great predecessor once averred that the British people had the heart of a lion, and he ‘had the luck to be called upon to give the roar’ during their finest hour.
“Best wishes in the days ahead for every success in giving the roar for what we’re confident will be another very fine hour in the long history of your lion-hearted people.”
Meanwhile, Johnson still faces an uphill struggle to ensure Britain leaves the EU by the end of October as scheduled. The Northern Ireland border issue remains a stumbling block with both the EU and the UK refusing to give ground, making a No Deal Brexit seem inevitable.
However, opposition MPs backed by several Tory rebels, are threatening to bring down the government to prevent the UK leaving without a deal that protects the British economy and the Northern Ireland border. If that happens, the UK could be facing a General Election in the autumn.