Dominic Raab in Washington to reassure US politicians over Brexit bill
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is in Washington where he is expected to try to reassure US politicians about the latest Brexit twist.
Some US politicians are concerned about the UK government’s plan to override parts of the Brexit divorce deal.
But with the US presidential elections less than 50 days away, and the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, still the favourite to win, according to polls, Mr Raab will be eager to reassure members of the Senate and the House of Representatives about the UK’s plans to revise the EU withdrawal agreement.
Mr Raab is due to meet leading politicians including his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, as well as Democratic Congresswoman Ms Pelosi, who is speaker of the House of Representatives.
Earlier this week, Pelosi, warned there would be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade deal passing Congress if Britain violated its international agreements and Brexit undermined the Belfast accords. Any such trade deal needs two-thirds support of the Senate, and so requires substantial support from Democratic senators.
A key target of UK lobbying is also likely to be Richard Neal, the chairman of the ways and means committee, which oversees trade agreements. In a statement last week he pointed out that the US was a guarantor of the Belfast Agreement.
“I urge both sides to uphold the terms of this joint agreement, particularly with respect to the treatment of Northern Ireland, in accordance with international law,” Mr Neal said. “The UK’s departure from the EU at the end of this year and any US-UK trade agreement must preserve the Good Friday agreement, which has maintained peace and prosperity for British and European peoples since 1998.
“I sincerely hope the British government upholds the rule of law and delivers on the commitments it made during Brexit negotiations, particularly in regard to the Irish Border protocols.”
A set-piece speech at the Atlantic Council thinktank on Thursday may be Mr Raab’s single biggest public chance to explain UK government thinking on Ireland, as well as Iran. The UK is at loggerheads with the Trump administration on the US claim that it has the right to impose UN snapback sanctions on Iran.
Earlier this week, a proposed law that would give the UK government the power to override part of the Brexit withdrawal deal – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the EU last October – cleared its first hurdle.
It now faces further scrutiny and also needs to be passed by the House of Lords.
If the law comes into force, it would breach international law – a prospect that prompted an angry response from senior figures in the US last week.
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