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Joe Biden is ‘anti-British’ pro-Irish nationalist, says DUP

‘Joe Biden hates the UK’, says ex-leader Arlene Foster – while DUP MP Sammy Wilson accuses president of ‘antipathy towards Protestants’

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 12 April 2023 11:25 BST
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Rishi Sunak greets Joe Biden as US president lands in Belfast

DUP politicians have attacked Joe Biden as “anti-British” and pro-Irish Republican as they again resisted pressure to resume powersharing at Stormont.

Senior unionist party figures spoke out against the US president as he arrived in Northern Ireland for a brief visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Joe Biden hates the UK – I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” former DUP first minister of Northern Ireland Dame Arlene Foster told GB News.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said Mr Biden, a Catholic who had played up his Irish roots, was “anti-British”, adding: “He is pro-republican and he has made his antipathy towards Protestants in particular very well known.”

“He has fully backed the EU in this whole protocol process,” Mr Wilson told The Telegraph. “He’s refusing to come to the coronation [of King Charles]. I don’t think any of us are rushing through the door to greet him.”

Denying the DUP claims, the spokesperson for the US National Security Council said Mr Biden’s “track record shows he is not anti-British”.

The spokesperson the UK remains “one of our strongest and closest allies”, and said the comments Ms Foster and others were “simply untrue”.

But DUP figures have issue strong criticism of Mr Biden and insisted his visit would make no difference to the party’s decision on whether to return to the Stormont executive with Sinn Fein.

Nigel Dodds, DUP peer, said: “Pressure from an American administration which is so transparently pro-nationalist constitutes no pressure on us at all”.

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr told TalkTV that “the poor fella is unfortunately quite gaffe prone,” adding: “It would be like a Frenchman coming over to you and telling you what to do in England.”

The DUP last month voted in parliament against Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework – a deal agreed with the EU to replace the Northern Ireland protocol and ease trade checks on goods being transported across the Irish Sea.

Joe Biden greeted by Rishi Sunak (REUTERS)

The party is expected to request amendments to the framework, but given the difficulty of making major changes to the text of a treaty, its demands are unlikely to be successful.

The US president will hold an informal meeting with the leaders of the five parties at the start of his four-day trip, The Independent understands.

US congressman Richard Neal, a top ally of Mr Biden said the administration would “prod” and “nudge” the DUP end its protest over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

But Tony Blair, who signed the historic peace deal in April 1998, warned Mr Biden that “pressurising” the unionist community could backfire, saying: “There is a difference between influencing and pressurising ... the one tends to be positive, the other can be negative.”

Joe Biden arrives in Northern Ireland (REUTERS)

Unionists have not forgiven Mr Biden for a series of gaffes in which he played up his Irish-Catholic roots. In 2015 he welcomed Irish prime minister Enda Kenny to the White House by saying: “If you are wearing orange, you are not welcome here”.

In a briefing to journalists, Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the US National Security Council, was asked what the president’s strategy will be the encourage the DUP to end its boycott of the Stormont Assembly.

She said the president would like to see the devolved institutions back up and running, but really the main focus of his visit is to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Biden and Mr Sunak are not expected to discuss a free trade agreement during their meeting in Northern Ireland this morning, it has been indicated.

It will be the third in-person meeting between the two leaders. In a briefing to journalists, Ms Sloat said: “I don’t anticipate that the two leaders are going to be talking about a free trade agreement on this trip.”

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