Joe Biden’s White House tried to put out the flames of a major transatlantic bust-up with Britain today after the president was accused of rebuking to Boris Johnson for ‘inflaming tensions’ in Northern Ireland.
Brexiteer Tories branded the 78-year-old Democrat ‘senile’ after he failed to side with the UK in its ‘sausage war’ bust-up with the EU.
The Sausage War?
The US President used his diplomats to express ‘great concern’ over the conflict centred on post-Brexit trade rules agree last year by both sides, which the UK is now seeking to change, the Times reported today.
The report prompted a massive backlash from Tory backbenchers and the DUP leader Edwin Poots after the PM was accused of ‘inflaming tensions’ in Northern Ireland and threatening the peace process.
The United States was said to have ‘strongly urged’ Britain to ‘stay cool’ and reach an agreement, even if that meant making ‘unpopular compromises’.
But ahead of bilateral talks between the two leaders due to take place later this afternoon, a senior Biden administration official said: ‘This is wrong.
‘First this discussion wasn’t directed by the President. It was not heightened. As with any ally we have diplomatic conversations about areas where we have concern at many levels.
‘Jake (Sullivan – US national security adviser) addressed the issue of Northern Ireland during his BBC interview and the message sent privately was exactly the same.’
The rebuke came as crunch talks between Britain and Brussels over sausage imports failed to make a breakthrough. European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic threatened to retaliate if the UK takes unilateral action to continue the flow of British-produced chilled meats to Northern Ireland.
DUP leader Mr Poots lashed out at Mr Biden today, accusing him of trying to drive ‘a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement’ that guarantees sectarian peace in Northern Ireland’.
Mr Poots, who wants the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit deal removed, told the BBC: ‘This is effectively a constitutional change. Would president Biden for example allow Alaska, which is separate and distinct from the rest of the land block of the USA, but still part of the USA, to be taking laws from Canada, and have its laws applied from Canada?’
And an anonymous Tory MP told Politico: ‘America should remember who their allies are… unfortunately he’s (Biden) so senile that he probably won’t remember what we tell him anyway.
‘Unless an aide is listening I’m not sure he’s going to remember for very long.’
The row now seems certain to overshadow talks between Mr Johnson and Mr Biden today ahead of the G7 meeting of world leaders in Cornwall. Mr Biden arrived in the UK with huge fanfare last night.
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