Boris Johnson to 'assure' US over Northern Ireland border as Joe Biden victory looms

Democratic candidate had warned trade deal was dependent on respecting EU Brexit deal

<p>Joe Biden has pledged to stand up for the Northern Ireland border - potentially at the cost of a US-UK trade deal</p>

Joe Biden has pledged to stand up for the Northern Ireland border - potentially at the cost of a US-UK trade deal

The UK government is set to "assure" the US over its commitment to the Northern Ireland peace agreement, in light of a looming Joe Biden victory in the country's presidential election.

The Democratic nominee during the campaign blasted Boris Johnson's policy on the Irish border, warning that "any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the agreement and preventing the return of a hard border".

With the votes still being counted but a Democratic victory looking increasingly likely, justice minister Robert Buckland moved to placate the Democratic candidate - in an early sign of how the changing political weather in Washington could affect Britain.

"If there is a new administration I can assure them that that will be very much at the heart of what we wish to do, and any trade agreement will, of course, respect that," Mr Buckland told Sky News when asked about how he would deal with the border question.

Reports last month indicated that Mr Biden was considering a potential visit to Ireland to take a prominent role in ensuring no reemergence of a hard border.

Mr Biden's Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton, who like the incoming president has Irish ancestry, played a large role in brokering the original Good Friday Agreement – a mantle Mr Biden appears to be eyeing himself.

Boris Johnson's government in London desperately wants a trade deal with the US to illustrate the supposed benefits of leaving the EU's customs union, but was unable to secure one with Donald Trump's administration before the presidential election.

The likely loss of a right-wing popular ideological ally in the White House is a major blow to the UK's trade policy ambitions, given Mr Trump's apparent willingness to ink an agreement.

But Mr Biden, if he becomes president, is expected to take a more conventional approach to relations with Europe and has threatened to use a US-UK trade deal as a carrot and stick to ensure Mr Johnson plays ball on Northern Ireland.

It is currently UK government policy to overwrite parts of the Northern Ireland agreement Mr Johnson signed less than a year ago, a move the UK admits will breach international law in a "limited and specific" way.

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