U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned Britain on Friday that nullifying the Northern Ireland peace agreement — known as the Good Friday accords — would likely undermine negotiations for a post-Brexit bilateral trade agreement with the United States.
Pelosi, who was in London, told Chatham House she was not making a threat, but a prediction.
“If there is destruction of the Good Friday accords, they [are] very unlikely to have a UK-U.S. bilateral. We have to have a path that includes it,” Pelosi told the London-based think-tank.
Signed in 1998 by the Irish and British governments, the Good Friday peace accords helped end 30 years of sectarian violence. Part of that agreement allowed for a “soft border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, allowing for goods and services to pass easily between the two countries.
When Britain left the European Union earlier this year, the sides agreed to keep an open land border between the North and Ireland, which remains an EU member. That, however, required customs checks to be introduced on goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
Facing internal opposition to those checks, Britain wants to renegotiate the agreement but the EU has so far refused.
The United States, which played a key role in securing the landmark 1998 accord, has cautioned Britain against doing anything to undermine the peace settlement.
Pelosi added that nobody was “declaring one thing or another,” and the government in Ireland has expressed a desire to work out the differences. But she said any significant changes to the accords would make a bilateral trade agreement with Britain “problematic.”
Pelosi was also asked about U.S. politics and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The House speaker said the insurrection, which she said was “incited” by Trump, was rooted in "some kind of white supremacy, antisemitism, Islamophobia.” She alluded to FBI statements that identify domestic extremists as the most urgent terror threat on U.S. soil.
Pelosi also urged members of the U.S. Republican party to "take back your party."
“The Republican party, the Grand Old Party, has made tremendous contributions to our country,” Pelosi said, telling party leaders, “Don't let your party be hijacked by a cult.”
Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.