Johnson Cut Off By White House Staff Mid-Sentence During Biden Meeting

The prime minister was talking about a potential UK-US trade deal in the White House.
Biden with Johnson in the Oval Office
Biden with Johnson in the Oval Office
NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images

Boris Johnson was mid-sentence and talking about the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol when White House staff suddenly ordered reporters to leave the White House on Tuesday.

Johnson encouraged the press to ask questions during his meeting with US President Joe Biden, but he was abruptly cut off when answering the last question from Sky News’ Beth Rigby.

She asked if Biden was not going to prioritise securing a UK-US trade deal because of his concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol, leading the president to admit he does feel “very strongly” about keeping the Irish border open.

Johnson added: “On that point, Joe, you know, we are completely at one. And I think nobody wants to see anything that interrupts or unbalances the Belfast Good Friday Accord – that is, the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”

This is the peace treaty which brought an end to the Irish Troubles in 1997.

He started another sentence but a White House aide suddenly started calling for the reporters to leave.

According to the White House’s Press Office, Biden was then asked: “What’s your response to the situation on the border, Mr President?”

Biden’s reply was inaudible but according to the Press Office, he replied: “Violence is not justified.”

However, this could not be heard over the clamour of the exiting press.

The White House’s readout of their meeting claimed the two leaders “discussed Northern Ireland and President Biden reiterated his longstanding support for a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland”.

Northern Ireland has been a major source of tension between Downing Street and the Biden administration ever since the Democrat started his presidential campaign in 2019.

Particularly proud of his Irish heritage, Biden has repeatedly stated there would be no deal between the States and post-Brexit Britain if the peace of the island of Ireland was threatened in any way.

The UK decided to introduce the Northern Ireland Protocol as a means to maintain that peace – the country would leave the EU with the rest of the UK but continue to follow the bloc’s trading rules so that seamless trade could continue with the Republic of Ireland.

There have been widespread complaints about this procedure since it came into place in January, with many in Northern Ireland complaining they feel separated from the rest of the UK.

Biden has since confirmed that a UK-US trade deal is unlikely in the upcoming years, leaving Downing Street to consider entering the US-Canada-Mexico trade pact.