Biden issues Boris Johnson with new Brexit warning, saying the UK's border with Ireland must remain open
- President-elect Joe Biden has issued Boris Johnson with a further warning about his Brexit plans, saying wants to avoid the emergence of any border between Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- 'We want to make sure — we've worked too long to get Ireland worked out ... The idea of having a border north and south once again being closed is just not right, we've just got to keep the border open,' Biden said.
- Biden was echoing concerns from other senior Democrats that the prime minister's Brexit plans could result in the re-emergence of a border in Ireland, undermining the Good Friday Agreement.
- Negotiations between Brussels and London are ongoing and could finish this week, but EU and UK officials have warned that a no-deal Brexit is still on the table.
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President-elect Joe Biden has issued Boris Johnson with a new warning about his Brexit plans, saying that he did not want to see the emergence of a hard border between Ireland and the United Kingdom, and noting that he had discussed the matter with the prime minister.
Speaking to journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden was asked what he would say to Brexit negotiators and replied: "We do not want a guarded border."
"We want to make sure — we've worked too long to get Ireland worked out," Biden added. "I've talked with the British prime minister, I've talked to the [Irish] Taoiseach, I've talked to others, I've talked to the French. The idea of having a border north and south once again being closed is just not right, we've just got to keep the border open."
Biden, who frequently references his Irish ancestry, was reflecting concerns that Brexit negotiations could collapse, resulting in a hard border on the island of Ireland. Negotiations between Brussels and London are ongoing and could conclude this week, but EU and UK officials have warned that a no-deal Brexit is still on the table.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said last week that thorny issues including fishing rights and the so-called "level playing field" needed to be resolved, indicating that a no-deal outcome remains a significant possibility.
The president-elect also publicly warned Johnson earlier this year about his Brexit plans, echoing concerns from other senior Democrats that a piece of legislation Johnson is still trying to push through parliament could undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
"We can't allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit," Biden tweeted on September 16. "Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period."
The president-elect is also reported to have warned Johnson twice about his Brexit plans during his first phone call with the prime minister earlier in November.
Biden's latest comments underline stark differences between President Trump and the incoming president on the issue of Brexit. While Trump was a vocal supporter of Brexit, Biden was firmly opposed to the idea. Tony Blinken, the incoming secretary of state, has also voiced his opposition to Brexit, last year calling it a "total mess."
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