US sounds alarm bells as Senator warns Britain to fix Brexit protocol over peace fears

UK warned to 'protect Good Friday Agreement' by Murphy

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Democratic Senator for Connecticut, Chris Murphy, explained many US senators were growing concerned over the “last stages of Brexit” and feared without proper negotiation, Northern Ireland’s peace could be under threat. Senator Murphy revealed upholding the Good Friday Agreement had cross-party support in the US and was concerned implementing Article 16 as a political tactic would hurt that. The US politician believed Article 16 would plunge Northern Ireland into “economic chaos” as he voiced the concerns some have over in America.

Speaking on Sky News, Senator Murphy explained there was great interest from Democrats and Republicans to ensure the Good Friday Agreement was maintained.

He added the US wanted to “press this message” in Brussels too so peace in Ireland was not under threat.

He told the broadcaster: “We’re deeply appreciative of the British government for hosting so many US members of Congress and diplomats over the course of Cop26.

“[I’m] proud of the progress that was made there.

“This is obviously the most important alliance that we have, we obviously have great equities in the Good Friday Agreement.

“There are supporters on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

“I think the message is that right now, we want to make sure that these negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol, the sort of last stages of Brexit.

“[That they] are done in a way that doesn’t compromise the relative peace and stability that you see today in and around Belfast.”

EU hits out at Lord Frost's Northern Ireland demands

Senator Murphy added he feared the implementation of Article 16, which would suspend parts of the Protocol, would ultimately lead to instability, and will threaten peace.

He continued: “You’ve got a lot of members of Congress who care deeply about the Good Friday Agreement and many of us feel that exercising Article 16 could plunge Northern Ireland into economic chaos.

“Which could lead to political instability and we need to press this message in Brussels as well.

“Brussels needs to come to the table and agree to be flexible on the implementation of the protocol but there is certainly a lot of American interest in making sure that we preserve the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement.”

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UK Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost and EU Vice-President Maros Sefcovic have gone back and forth with negotiations as the UK Government seeks to change the way the agreement is implemented.

Lord Frost wrote in a column for the Mail on Sunday that over 200 retailers have stopped delivering to Northern Ireland over the checks at the border with Marks and Spencers cancelling its Christmas click and collect range in the country.

The UK Government is exploring ways checks at the border are conducted more smoothly but Mr Sefcovic argues the EU has been doing all it can during negotiations.

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, Mr Sefovic told the programme: “Sometimes I have the feeling that in our meetings I’m the only one who pushes for urgent solutions.”

Mr Sefcovic also revealed the EU has already proposed to cut customs paperwork by half and remove 80 percent of the checks on foot products.

Lord Frost called for the EU to agree with the UK’s proposal that goods that are not going to leave Northern Ireland should not be treated as if they are.

As part of the Protocol, Northern Ireland has special status within the EU meaning any goods entering the country from Great Britain is subject to checks as if they were entering the bloc.

But the new rules have caused disruptions to Northern Ireland with some supermarkets reporting shortages at the beginning of the year. 

Taoiseach Micheal Martin downplayed the delays and said they were “overstated”.

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