While some politicians and commentators in the United Kingdom may be have little more than contempt for the Good Friday Agreement, the peace accord which largely ended three decades of conflict in the UK legacy colony on the island of Ireland, no such sentiment exists in the United States where the cessation of the Irish-British Troubles is still viewed as a triumph of US diplomacy in the 1990s. This perhaps explains the unusually blunt warning given to Britain by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, during a speech at a packed gathering in the London School of Economics on Monday:
First of all it is very hard to pass a trade bill in the Congress of the United States, so it’s no given anyway.
But if there were any weakening of the Good Friday accords there would be no chance whatsoever, a non-starter for a US-UK trade agreement.
The Good Friday accords ended 700 years of conflict.
This is not a treaty only, it’s an ideal, it’s a value, it’s something that’s a model to the world, something that we all take pride in.
It was a model and other people have used it as a model and we don’t want that model to be something that can be bargained away in another agreement.
We have met the speaker. We met with the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn and we met with those who left the Labour Party and we made it clear to all that if there’s any harm to the Good Friday accords – no trade treaty.
Today we met with the Government, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and deputy prime minister and those who are in opposition in the Conservative Party and to all of them we made it clear: don’t even think about it.
By the invariably warm standards of US-UK relations this was a decidedly cool statement by the congressperson, reflecting the particular sense of ownership the Democratic Party feels for the Belfast treaty and the belief among some leaders in Washington that London is playing a dangerous game in its Brexit negotiations with Dublin and Brussels. The warning to the British was reiterated in no uncertain terms by Pelosi when she met Simon Coveney, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, during the first day of a two-day visit to Ireland.
They [the British] want to leave the EU – that’s the decision their country is making, has made – and as they work it out, not to think for one minute that there’s any comfort for them in the fact that if they leave the EU that they would quickly have a US-UK trade agreement.
That’s just not on the cards, if there’s any harm done to the Good Friday accords. Don’t even think about that.