POLITICS
10/11/2020 19:05 GMT | Updated 10/11/2020 19:13 GMT

Joe Biden Said Brexit Must Not Damage Good Friday Agreement, Says Irish PM After Phone Call

President-elect spoke to Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin as well as Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
US president elect Joe Biden has been speaking with world leaders after his victory over Donald Trump

US president elect Joe Biden used a phone call with Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin to sound the alarm over any threat Brexit may pose to the Good Friday Agreement. 

Biden spoke with Martin on Tuesday, the Irish government said, adding the Democrat “reaffirmed his full support” for the 1997 peace accord Bill Clinton helped to negotiate. 

The two leaders “discussed the importance of a Brexit outcome that respects the GFA and ensures no return of a border on the island of Ireland”, Dublin said on Tuesday. 

Biden, who beat Donald Trump in the race for the White House, is thought not to support Brexit and also spoke with French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson also had a phone call with Biden lasting around 25 minutes at around 4pm, Downing Street has said.  

In a statement, the Irish government said Martin had congratulated him and Kamala Harris on their “remarkable election victory”.

Boris Johnson calls Joe Biden from Downing Street
Boris Johnson calls Joe Biden from Downing Street

“In a warm conversation, president-elect Biden recalled his strong Irish roots and his visit to Ireland with his family in 2016,” the statement read.

“The president-elect reaffirmed his full support for the GFA and they discussed the importance of a Brexit outcome that respects the GFA and ensures no return of a border on the island of Ireland.

“They looked forward to working together bilaterally and across a range of international areas including EU-US relations, the UN – including the Security Council, and on the important global challenges of Covid-19, economic recovery and climate change.”

Martin said during the campaign Joe Biden had “nailed his colours to the mast” in terms of his “absolute commitment” to the upholding of the GFA and “his resistance to any measures or mechanisms or developments that would undermine the agreement and peace on the island of Ireland”.

He also described Biden, who has ancestral roots in Ireland, as “the most Irish of presidents since John F Kennedy” and said the Irish government was pleased he had “won the confidence of the American people”.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the election of Biden had “made it clear” that there would be no trade deal with Britain unless the GFA is safeguarded in all of its parts.

“The election of Joe Biden has the potential to reshape the nature of the Brexit negotiation particularly with regards to the aggressive and arrogant approach taken by the Tory government and Boris Johnson to Irish interests,” she said.

“Throughout this process Tories have actively sought to undermine the GFA and most recently Mr Johnson has played the reckless game by using as a bargaining chip the protection secured for Ireland as part of the withdrawal agreement.”

“Central to this game-playing has been Mr Johnson’s dangerous internal markets bill.”

It comes as the internal market bill makes its way through parliament, with the UK set to end the Brexit transition period with the EU on December 31. 

Peers voted down the controversial bill, which would give ministers the power to breach the PM’s own withdrawal agreement with the EU, on Monday night, but Downing Street refuses to back down.

Biden is said to have “significant concerns” about the legislation has previously warned it could threaten the GFA. 

It is not clear whether Johnson and Biden discussed Brexit during their conversation. 

The prime minister confirmed the conversation on Tuesday in a tweet, with No.10 adding he had also passed on good wishes to vice president-elect  Kamala Harris. 

Johnson said he looked forward to working with the new US administration on “shared priorities”, which include climate change, as the UK continues preparations to host the COP26 summit in Glasgow next year.