Back off, Joe! Biden warned not to ‘meddle’ in Northern Ireland: ‘You’re no Clinton’

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Mr Biden, who has close ancestral links with the Irish Republic, is on record as saying he will not allow the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the Troubles, to become a “casualty” of Brexit. However, Noah Khogali, a contributor for Young Voices UK as well as being policy director for the Conservative Friends of the Commonwealth, fears Mr Biden’s affection for Ireland may cloud his judgement – to the detriment of all concerned.

Biden is no Bill Clinton

Noah Khogali

Writing in City AM, he referenced former President Bill Clinton, who was instrumental in the negotiation of the landmark 1998 agreement.

Mr Khogali said: “Biden is no Bill Clinton. He’s a man who, albeit probably jokingly, refused to take questions from the BBC because of his ‘Irish Catholic’ heritage.

“In recent years, beaming, he’s posed for pictures with Gerry Adams and IRA fugitive turned Sinn Fein US representative Rita O’Hare, and he’s made comments about how people “wearing orange” weren’t welcome in his home.

“This runs in stark contrast to the rhetoric of hope and bi-partisanship on which the Clintons built their image in Northern Ireland.”

It was “completely understandable” that Mr Biden’s Irish Catholic heritage would leave him with a soft spot for the Republican movement, Mr Khogali said.

However, he added: “But compared to Clinton, who managed to maintain an image of neutrality despite his Irish heritage, Biden seems ill-equipped to keep the peace.

“His involvement would likely only ruin the US’s legacy of peacekeeping in the region.”

Unionist figures within Northern Ireland have already demonstrated their disdain for Biden, going so far as to accuse him of being an “Irish nationalist parrot”.

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It was therefore difficult to see how Mr Biden’s involvement would do anything but “inflame tensions far beyond what they are at present”, Mr Khogali claimed, commenting: “Including Biden in any effort at de-escalation would be deeply misguided.

Mr Khogali acknowledged that there was an aspect of the current difficulties in Northern Ireland, which was “of Westminster’s own making”.

He said: “Much of the recent angst was sparked by the Government’s extension of the grace period for Northern Irish businesses, which is arguably against international law.

“In doing so, it is responsible for placing the entire Northern Ireland protocol on the brink of collapse.

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“Of course, every decision has been defended, with politicians repeatedly arguing that it is acting for the good of the Northern Irish populous.

“If that’s so, then it should be able to deal with the repercussions of those actions, rather than simply allowing the US to come in and clean up their mess.”

Crucially, he warned: “Downing Street must take care not to let the US meddle in the ongoing Northern Ireland crisis.

“As tensions have escalated, so has the likelihood of US interventionism – but this must be dissuaded at all costs.”

Mr Biden’s remarks about the Northern Ireland Protocol have cast a shadow over hopes of a wide-ranging trade deal between the US and the UK.

Speaking to the Irish Times last week, US Senator Richard Neal, the Democrat chairman of the Senate’s influential Ways and Means Committee as well as of the bipartisan Friends of Ireland group, lift the lid on the levels of unhappiness in Washington.

He said: “There seems to be a pattern that is developing in the aftermath of Brexit.

“It was the arbitrary nature of how the UK challenged what they had previously agreed to the sort of camouflaging it by suggesting that it is only about a temporary postponement.”

He added: “This a reminder that there can be no disruption to the Good Friday Agreement, period.

“We see that agreement as a template that should be a model for the rest of the world.

“The president has made his position very clear. Speaker Pelosi and I have reinforced it.

“You have the executive and the legislative branch, and the chair of the committee with oversight on trade saying there can be no threat to the Good Friday Agreement and certainly no return to the hard border.”

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