Brexit LIVE: Watch out Brussels! Raab masterminds US secret weapon in bitter trade battle
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The Democrats have this week issued several public warnings over Brexit talks between the UK and EU, as the row over Boris Johnson’s plan to override key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the Internal Market Bill continues to escalate. But Foreign Secretary Mr Raab used the third day of his visit to Washington to try to turn the spotlight onto Brussels. He said: “I think it would be helpful for all those concerned about this to elicit the same unilateral, absolute commitment not to require any infrastructure at the border between the North and the South. So far it’s actually only the UK that has said that.
“I think actually if the EU did come out and make the same commitment it would also help the negotiations.
“So I hope our American colleagues will reinforce that point on both sides.”
But the UK has faced a huge backlash from prominent Democrats and US congressmen, who have warned they would block a US-UK free trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement is undercut in any way.
Mr Biden waded into the war of words as the Foreign Secretary was meeting Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives.
He tweeted: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.
“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
The intervention from Mr Biden sparked a furious backlash from Conservative Party Brexiteers, with some comparing the remarks to meddling in UK-EU negotiations.
Iain Duncan Smith told The Times: “We don’t need lectures on the Northern Ireland peace deal from Mr Biden. If I were him I would worry more about the need for a peace deal in the USA to stop the killing and rioting before lecturing other sovereign nations.”
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, said: “Perhaps Mr Biden should talk to the EU since the only threat of an invisible border in Ireland would be if they insisted on levying tariffs.”
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7.45am update: EU plans to RAMP UP Brexit demands after Boris threats spark panic
The European Union could table new demands to prevent Britain from ripping up a future trade agreement after Boris Johnson’s threat to breach last year’s Brexit deal.
Brussels sources said the bloc is now closely examining its “governance” position to ensure any future relationship pact with the UK is unbreakable.
Michel Barnier is said to be assessing a much stricter framework to enforce the terms of any agreement struck before the end of the year.
The move comes after the Prime Minister published legislation that would hand ministers the power to ignore EU customs checks and state aid rules in Northern Ireland.
Despite the provocation from London, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen still believes a deal is possible.
EU diplomats have hinted the bloc could even accept less stringent level-playing field regulations if a stronger enforcement measure is found.
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