Boris Johnson angers Ireland at his peril – a US trade deal could hinge on the Irish power base in the Democrats

Nancy Pelosi is clear that the Democrats will block any deal if the new PM allows a Brexit that threatens peace in Ireland. Now a bipartisan committee of US politicians is making the same case. It’s time for a rethink

Nancy Pelosi says Brexit must not see return of Irish border as the US speaker addresses Irish parliament in Dublin

Relax Britain, who needs Brussels? Donald Trump is going to offer “a very substantial trade deal” through which we can do “three, four, five times what we’re doing”. Go Boris! Go Donald!

The president’s words were music to the ears of backers of his British mini-me, despite the inconvenient fact that, even if Trump is right, that would still amount to a mere fraction of the trade we do with the EU, which is gravely threatened by the Tories taking us on a dystopian acid trip.

Given that, you might sigh and argue that facts have become something of an irrelevance. But they have a nasty habit of interfering with things in the end.

Here’s another inconvenient one: such is their ardour for the man in the White House, the Tories seem not to have noticed his bombast doesn’t always stand up to close scrutiny. Don and the BoZo can sign up to whatever deals they want. Trump does have indeed have very substantial authority to negotiate very substantial deals. But before they can be enacted, those deals first have to be ratified by the US House of Representatives – a house that is currently very hostile to the president and his administration.

That hostility is far from the only problem Johnson faces when it comes to America’s legislative branch. The British media’s navel-gazing means that few people have woken up to the recent comments made by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house. She’s made it very clear that if the no-deal Brexit beloved by Johnson and his Tory ultras goes on to dismantle the painstakingly negotiated Anglo Irish Agreement – which it will – then there will be no trade deal with the US. Her Democrats will block it.

The Irish American lobby has always had a strong voice in the Democratic Party and it has taken a dim view of Johnson’s apparent contempt for, and high handed treatment of, our neighbour. Ditto the attempts at holding its Taoiseach Leo Varadkhar responsible for the problems Johnson’s government is creating, as clear a case of blaming a homeowner for getting burgled as I’ve ever seen.

The latest example of that comes courtesy of Nick Timothy in the Daily Telegraph. You may remember him as the incompetent backroom boy who played an important role in losing Theresa May her Parliamentary majority. He ended up getting fired out for that, but has since proven to be a bit like the chicken pox virus, hanging around only to re-emerge as a secondary infection periodically. His calling out of Varadkhar for allegedly putting peace at risk is an example of the sort of thinking that will only harden the stance of the Dems in the House.

Isn’t even just Congressional Democrats that have been rumbling, either. A bipartisan committee has been set up in the US with a view to protecting the agreement. It has delivered much the same message as Pelosi.

These developments have been noted in Ireland, less so in fuzzy eyed Britain where the fact that Varadkhar also has friends across the pond doesn’t seem to have registered. Some of those friends will not be short of motivation to kick Trump’s best buddy in a painful place should the opportunity arise.

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International trade secretary Liz Truss yesterday posted a series of pictures of her meeting with US ambassador Woody Johnson along with a hashtag – “#readytotrade” – that no one other than a socially inadequate policy wonk would ever use. Her team seems not to have worked out that holding an empty-looking binder made her look very silly indeed .It also served as a handy metaphor for the dreams of the government in which she serves.

For empty is how they will be if that government continues to brush aside the Irish issue and treat its leader in a petty and mean-spirited manner.

Congress has the all the power it needs to make Johnson’s trade plans look even sillier than his own trade secretary.

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