James Cleverly gives joint press conference with Secretary Blinken
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Joe Biden is not backing down in his position over Brexit and will continue for a negotiated deal over the Northern Ireland protocol, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested. The continued hard line on the position came as Mr Blinken and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly held wide ranging talks in Washington DC today.
Mr Blinken told journalists: “President Biden is unequivocal in his support for the Belfast Good Friday Agreement signed 25 years ago.
“He believes there must be a negotiated settlement and he is heartened by the recent progress.”
The UK still has legislation on the table to trigger to ensure that Northern Ireland is not separated from the UK or denied goods such as meat and medicines as a result of the EU taking a hard line on the protocol.
But Mr Biden and Democrats have previously threatened to prevent a UK/US trade deal taking place if the new law is implemented and Mr Blinken’s statement was meant to restate that position.
Mr Blinken also hailed the controversial decision to send former Congressman Joe Kennedy as a special envoy to Northern Ireland to build relations with “all communities” but also to provide support for the talks.
Mr Cleverly confirmed that he “updated secretary Blinken” on the talks.
He insisted that “there is genuine good faith” on both sides between the UK and EU to get an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol.
The Foreign Secretary though insisted that the UK wants to ensure there is a “free flow of goods within the United Kingdom”.
Mr Cleverly said that he did not plan to give a running commentary on the talks with the EU insisting that he has “tried to keep them discreet”.
But his comments also made it clear that the UK will not simply comply with EU demands over its aims of protecting the Single Market even though he insisted the UK plans to respect their wishes.
It is understood that Mr Biden wants to come to the UK to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Biden said that senior allies “are always welcome” but he refused to confirm that the visit has been agreed or commit to a timetable of completing the EU talks in time for the commemoration.
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